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West Brom vs Middlesbrough – Match Preview

West Brom full-back Brendan Galloway will be assessed after suffering a hamstring injury in midweek.

Kane Wilson, 16, came on for Galloway against Northampton and may become the first player born in the 21st century to feature in the Premier League.

Middlesbrough are short of left-backs, with George Friend missing because of a calf problem and Fabio out with a knee injury.

Fit-again defender Daniel Ayala may return to Boro’s starting line-up.

Ayala’s inclusion at centre-back could allow Antonio Barragan to fill in at left-back. Summer signing Bernardo Espinosa may be included in the squad after proving his fitness.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes and midfielder Marten de Roon are ruled out with hamstring injuries.

Both sides suffered League Cup defeats to lower ranked opposition in Midweek with West Brom being beaten by Northampton and Middlesbrough losing to Fulham in Extra-Time both sides will be looking to bounce back from that disappointment with a win this afternoon.

The league tells a different story for Middlesbrough though as they are undefeated in their first two league games of the season with an opening day draw at home to Stoke was then followed up by a win in last weeks North East derby with Sunderland.

Manager Aitor Karanka will be very pleased with his sides start to the season while his managerial adversary this afternoon Tony Pulis probably won’t be as impressed with the way his West Brom side have started.

They may have recorded an opening day win at Crystal Palace as Pulis’ return to Selhurst Park was a victorious one but last week saw defeat at home to Everton after going ahead and the pressure is beginning to mount on the former Stoke manager with him being the bookies favourite to lose the sack race.

West Brom are functional but lack some creative spark throughout the side and even if they do keep hold of Saido Berahino past the end of the month they could do with some additional reinforcements up front. They are under new Chinese ownership so the money in which to do so will be there but selling the idea of a move to The Hawthorns could be much harder.

Boro’ are a much changed side from the one that sealed automatic promotion on the last day of last season’s Championship. Karanka has been backed in the transfer market by Chairman Steve Gibson as he looks to build a squad capable of staying up after a long period away from the top flight.

If they can win this then it will give them 7 points from 9 and that would be a very impressive return, the fixture computer has been kind to them in these first three matches and life will get harder after the international break but if they can stockpile points early on then that will do their confidence a world of good.

That said I think West Brom will once again be a tough nut to crack especially at home as Tony Pulis will once again set his side up with two banks of four and look to limit Boro’s more creative players. I have a feeling that this one will end up in a draw this afternoon. A share of the points for me.

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