Porto friendly last chance for troops to stake claim for opener
ALAN Irvine says Saturday’s Hawthorns friendly against Porto (ko 4pm) will be his players’ last chance to force their way into his first Barclays Premier League starting line-up – as he prepares to welcome Brown Ideye into the fold.
Club-record signing Ideye is set to fly into the UK tomorrow (Friday) following the completion of his work permit application process.
The Nigeria international striker won’t be involved against 2004 Champions League winners Porto but will train with his new team-mates for the first time next week.
Albion’s final pre-season friendly will come too soon for new boy Jason Davidson, who is building up his fitness after signing on Tuesday, plus Gareth McAuley (calf), Joleon Lescott and James Morrison (both knee).
However, Irvine has added fit-again left-back Sebastien Pocognoli and forward Stephane Sessegnon, back from international duty with Benin, to his squad.
The Baggies’ other new signing this week, Cristian Gamboa, will be absent as he awaits his visa to be processed.
Irvine is expecting a thorough examination against Porto, claiming the match will be perfect preparation for when his side face the Premier League’s leading lights this term.
The Portuguese giants, who finished third in their domestic top flight last term, will step up their planning for their forthcoming Champions League qualifying play-off.
Irvine, meanwhile, will be focussing on fine-tuning his team for Saturday week’s league opener at home to Sunderland.
“This is our last game before the season starts so it’s the last opportunity for the players to stake a claim for a place in the team,” said the head coach, as he prepares to take charge of his first game at The Hawthorns.
“We know that Porto are a very, very good team. They dominated possession in their recent matches against Genk and Everton – games we’ve seen.
“They’re also preparing for a Champions League qualifier so this game promises to be a very tough test.
“It will be good preparation for when we come against teams this season with the quality Porto have got.”
Tickets for the Porto game remain on general sale and are priced as follows:
Season ticket holders (if bought before the day of the game): £10 adults, £5 students/under 21s/seniors and £3 under-17s
Non-season ticket holders: £12 adults, £7 students/under 21s/seniors and £5 under-17s
Prices for everyone on the day of the game: £12 adults, £7 students/under 21s/seniors and £5 under-17s
Tickets can be purchased online from www.wbatickets.co.uk, by phone (0121 227 2227) or by visiting The Hawthorns’ East Stand ticket office.
The Birmingham Road and Smethwick ends will not be open but season ticket holders in these stands are still able to choose an alternative seat online, by phone or at the ticket office.
Season ticket holders in the West and East stands had until 5pm on Monday, July 28 to secure their usual seats, which have now been released and placed on general sale.