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LOCAL RIVALS: West Midlands derby as West Brom host Birmingham

 

West Brom can go level with leaders Bournemouth in the Sky Bet Championship if they beat local rivals Birmingham City at the Hawthorns on Friday night.

The Baggies are three points off Scott Parker's side, who were rocked by the news the week that their Welsh midfielder David Brooks has been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.

West Brom are unbeaten in their last seven league games against Birmingham City, of which they've won four in a run dating back to 2006.

The last time Birmingham beat West Brom at the Hawthorns, Steve Bruce was the manager in a 3-2 win in the 2005-06 season.

Lee Bowyer's side have failed to score in any of their last four league matches and haven't won since a 2-0 victory against Derby on September 10th.

It's a run of form that has seen a good start to the season fizzle out and leave Blues 16th.

For West Brom, midfielder Alex Mowatt has returned to training ahead of Saturday’s derby clash with Birmingham.

Mowatt’s return eases concerns over the injury that forced him off in the defeat to Stoke last time out – the Baggies’ only loss in the Championship this season.

Robert Snodgrass (ankle) is also back in contention, while both defender Matt Clarke and forward Kenneth Zohore came through 45 minutes with the under-23s last week as they return from injury.

Rayhaan Tulloch and youngster Jamie Soule have also trained after recent injuries but defender Dara O’Shea is a long-term absentee with a fractured ankle.

Birmingham midfielder Gary Gardner returns from a three-match ban to give manager Lee Bowyer an additional option.

Gardner was sent off in the 3-0 loss to Peterborough and missed the subsequent games against Preston, QPR and Nottingham Forest.

Bowyer threatened wholesale changes after the 3-0 defeat to Forest before the international break, with defender Dion Sanderson in contention to come into the side.

A four-game run without a goal leaves Bowyer searching for the right combination up front, with Scott Hogan substituted in each of the last three but none of Lukas Jutkiewicz, Troy Deeney or Chuks Aneke making a strong case.


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