Three-game week will influence selection
TONY Pulis will base his forthcoming team selections on the rigours of a three-game week as he awaits the return of the last clutch of internationals over the next 24 hours.
James McClean, Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli are the trio of players Pulis is still waiting to welcome back to the training camp as the focus now switches from World Cup qualifiers to the Club’s return to Premier League action.
It’s so far so good for Pulis and Albion, with Gareth McAuley fully recovered from a foot problem he felt during Northern Ireland’s 2-0 victory over Norway and everyone else back in training without any ill effects.
Long-haul specialist Salomon Rondon will be the last man in as he is not expected back until Thursday afternoon from Venezuela’s match this week against Chile.
The prospect of player fatigue and the schedule will then be key factors in Pulis’s selection plans.
After United, Albion travel to Watford next Tuesday before returning to The Hawthorns to face Southampton on April 8.
“We will look at it in terms of a three game week,” says the Baggies gaffer.
“We will move the players around because each opposition will present different challenges to us.
“With Jonas (Olsson) now having left us, we have a tight senior group of 16 who are all capable of going into the starting XI. Beyond that, we have the younger players and they can play bit parts from now until the end of the season.
“But we do need them to step up to the mark for the final eight or nine games.
“We’ve got McClean, Chadli in Russia and Salomon with a lot of travelling to consider – there will be question marks over whether they start at Manchester United."
Pulis admits he remains uncertain when Matt Phillips will be back in contention following a hamstring injury which has kept him out for the last four games.
"I'm not sure what the prognosis is for Matt now," he said.
"We're disappointed he's not fit but what began as a muscle injury is now a slight tendon problem. It's been a long time."