Moore has is­sues at the back due to in­jury and sus­pen­sion

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Foot­ball Writer

WEST Bromwich Al­bion head to Hull City on Satur­day af­ter­noon des­per­ate to re­spond to their three-match win­less streak with a much-needed vic­tory.

Al­bion have col­lected just a sin­gle point in their last three matches, con­ced­ing six times in the process and were on the end of a dam­ag­ing 4-1 score­line at home to pro­mo­tion ri­vals Derby.

Speak­ing of pro­mo­tion, the re­cent blip in form has by no means cost them ground in their hunt for a top flight re­turn.

Such is the na­ture of the sec­ond tier, and the un­pre­dictable re­sults that are thrown up week on week, Al­bion – in fifth – re­main only four points be­hind lead­ers Sh­effield United and two points off the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spots.

The visit to Hull rep­re­sents an at­trac­tive op­por­tu­nity to ar­rest their re­cent slump; Nigel Ad­kins’ Tigers sit in the rel­e­ga­tion zone hav­ing won three of their open­ing 15 games, al­beit they en­joyed vic­tory last time out against Bolton.

Dar­ren Moore, though, will be forced into at least one change when he takes his side to the KCOM Sta­dium. Cen­tre-back Kyle Bart­ley will be un­avail­able for se­lec­tion af­ter he col- lected his fifth book­ing of the sea­son in last Satur­day’s draw with Black­burn Rovers.

With ques­tions over Ahmed Hegazi’s avail­abil­ity, hav­ing missed the last two matches due to a ham­string in­jury, will Moore be forced into a re-think in for­ma­tion?

Moore has of course adopted a 3-41-2 for­ma­tion this term, with mixed re­sults.

Goals have flowed at a pro­lific rate at both ends, and they’re stats that have led to ques­tions over the Bag­gies’ abil­ity to main­tain their cur­rent strik­er­ate.

The new ap­proach of bring­ing the ball out and be­gin­ning at­tacks from the back has been far from a seam­less adap­tion.

Hegazi, Bart­ley, Craig Daw­son and Tosin Adara­bioyo have all looked shaky in pos­ses­sion of the ball and loose with their pass­ing. Op­pos­ing teams have smelt blood and pressed high up-field, hop­ing to win the ball in an area where Al­bion can be pun­ished.

This was some­thing picked up on by Black­burn boss Tony Mow­bray. There was cer­tainly ev­i­dence of Frank Lam­pard’s Rams do­ing sim­i­lar days ear­lier.

With doubts over the fit­ness of Hegazi and the sus­pen­sion of Bart­ley, it could po­ten­tially lead to Al­bion hav­ing just two fit se­nior cen­tre-backs on Satur­day. Is it a case of Moore plug­ging a gap? Or should the lack of op­tions im­pact the set-up?

If, for ar­gu­ment’s sake, Hegazi doesn’t make it, then there is a sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sion to be made.

With Jack Fitzwa­ter out on loan, Al­bion might only have two de­fend­ers to ap­ply to a three-at-the-back for­ma­tion.

Should they look to re­main with a three, and Matt Phillips and Conor Townsend or Kieran Gibbs take up their reg­u­lar places on each wing, it’ll lead to a player who has sel­dom played there pre­vi­ously join­ing Adara­bioyo and Daw­son at the back.

Might that be the ex­pe­ri­ence of Gareth Barry, if he pulls through? Or does Ty­rone Mears come in?

The al­ter­na­tive would be switch­ing to a four at the back, play­ing Mears at right-back and then hav­ing Townsend as a reg­u­lar left-back and Phillips as a reg­u­lar winger.

> Al­bion man­ager Dar­ren Moore

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