Jimmy Shan has spoken of his excitement ahead of Albion’s Play-Off semi-final first leg at Villa Park - but insists he’s firmly focused and all too aware of the magnitude of the occasion.
The scene is set for the 170th West Midlands derby against the Villans, with the two founder members of the English Football League fighting it out for a place at Wembley and a chance to return to the top flight.
And the Baggies caretaker Head Coach believes his players are ready for the challenge in front of them, as they prepare for a two-legged battle with their nearest rivals.
“Everyone is aware of the magnitude of the game and our approach is to take each game in isolation,” said Shan. “We’ll formalise a game plan to maximise what we’re about. Of course, we go into any game looking to try and gain the win and that’s what we’ll be doing on Saturday.
“Albion-Villa is a massive game, my two children speak about the rivalry between West Brom and Wolves, but I think the rivalry between West Brom and Aston Villa is equal if not even more so than that.
“It will be a massive occasion. Lots of West Brom fans reside in Birmingham and work with people that are Villa fans so it’s a massive game.
“I addressed the players on Tuesday morning and said I was excited. There’s a massive amount of excitement and it’s the business end of the season now so we know where we’re at and what we’ve got to do. There’s a good focus within the camp.”
He added: “As a coaching staff and as a playing staff everyone wants to work at the highest level and at the elite level and that’s the Premier League. We’ve got one goal and one goal only and all of our energy has been put in the same pot. We’ll continue to work towards trying to gain promotion.
“I think experience will play a part, I think it will play a big part. We have to rely on what we do as West Bromwich Albion Football Club. I often speak about game plans in simple terms, it’s about denying and exploiting. Those are the two things that will stick in our heads in the games against Aston Villa.
“I look around the changing room and there’s a good group, and a good work ethic, good appetite, great quality. If we can make sure we sync that with the experience then I think we’ll be in a good place.”