Birmingham Post

Window of opportunit­y is still open for Baggies, says bossVal

- Joseph Chapman Football Writer

ALBION are still seeking to be active in the transfer market before next Tuesday’s window deadline, according to boss Valerien Ismael.

The Baggies haven’t been as busy in the market as perhaps many might have expected so far having added Alex Mowatt, Quevin Castro and Adam Reach on free transfers, while Matt Clarke joined on a season-long loan deal.

Yet there is a consensus that the squad is still particular­ly thin, certainly in terms of experience­d, first-team options.

Ismael has permitted Romaine Sawyers to leave on loan, while Kenneth Zohore is unlikely to have a major – if any – role to play any time soon after being dropped from the matchday squad in the last two games.

On top of that now, Clarke himself has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury so the senior group is skinny indeed.

Ismael remains calm, though he does hope to add to the squad before the option to is closed off next Tuesday evening.

“We know behind the scenes what we have to do. We try and we have some more days,” Ismael reasoned. “We are calm.

“We don’t need to rush as we know exactly what we want.

“My expectatio­n is that we can do something until the end. You never know because it’s always a difficult situation, but behind the scenes Ken (chief executive) and Ian Pearce (head of recruitmen­t) have done a great job so far.

“We try to do everything to make sure we can get the right players.”

The next question is where must Albion strengthen most? In the backline they seem well stocked, though the Clarke situation is certainly a blow.

In midfield, following the departure of Sawyers and the inexperien­ce of Castro, claims that midfield cover for Mowatt and Jake Livermore – who are on two bookings apiece already – is needed wouldn’t be unfair.

Then there is the striker role.

While Rayhaan Tulloch has emerged as a genuine option for Ismael in the front-line, beyond Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant, Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana, there is little by way of natural attacking options and certainly there is a lack of a number nine.

“It’s one of the areas yes, but we’ll see what we can do,” Ismael said of the chances of bringing in a target man.

“We have to make sure we pick the right player.”

Sam Johnstone, meanwhile, is still in talks with the club over a new deal.

With a week to go, it now looks extremely likely that the Albion goalkeeper will be remaining at The Hawthorns.

However, he is in the final year of

his contract and the Baggies are keen to reach an agreement with his representa­tives that secures a prominent squad asset but also permits Johnstone to fulfil his ambitions – be that where he is now, or elsewhere.

“Progress is a big word but we keep talking,” Ismael added. “I don’t think we can get a result quickly, but at least all the parties are talking.

“We have a good feeling, but we need to be patient on that.”

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Baggies boss Valerien Ismael hopes to add to his squad
> Baggies boss Valerien Ismael hopes to add to his squad

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