Club News

Jones hoping to spring surprise on Stoke

Defender reckons Baggies are now tough to second-guess

BILLY Jones is hoping Albion can spring a surprise on Stoke on Saturday (ko 3pm) as he marvelled at the wealth of options Steve Clarke has at his disposal.

The Hawthorns boss was without Victor Anichebe and Scott Sinclair due to injury for the 1-1 draw with league leaders Arsenal eight days ago, while the likes of James Morrison, Shane Long and Chris Brunt were on the bench.

And Jones believes the Baggies have such strength in depth it will be difficult for the Potters to predict their starting XI.

“It’s an advantage that they won’t know our squad,” said the 26-year-old right-back.

“That’s why it’s such a great thing that we have such a strong squad.

“The players we have on the bench, even those who miss out on the 18, are strong.

“As players in the starting XI you have to perform well because the gaffer will make changes if you don’t.

“And if it’s not working, that’s a given. 

"We know we can make changes without weakening the team.

“What shape will we play? What individuals? What impact on the bench? All of these things will be important. 

“We now have players who can come off the bench and do well for us and make an impact.”

But the Baggies defender admits City are also a different proposition this term, with new boss Mark Hughes making changes in the wake of Tony Pulis’ summer departure.

The Britannia Stadium outfit made a positive start to the campaign but are currently 16th – two points and four places behind Albion – following three successive league defeats by Arsenal, Norwich and Fulham.

Jones added: “Maybe the style of play has changed – I saw them on TV this season and it did seem like that.

“The old style they played, with the players they had – all those players were great footballers.

“Some of the new signings they’ve brought in are good.

“Any games you go into against Stoke you know it’ll be tough.

“We’ll do the video analysis and know exactly what we’re facing. 

“We’ll have a game plan and know what we’ll need to do.”