Interviews

Bilić: Squad strength a ‘blessing’

7th February

Slaven Bilić admits the first-team players at his disposal are a ‘blessing’ as he ponders his selection for Albion’s trip to Millwall on Sunday (ko 1.30pm).

Three additions in the January transfer window bolstered Slaven’s already-strong, table-topping side, with new boy Callum Robinson impressing in a win against Wigan at The Hawthorns last week, while Kamil Grosicki and Lee Peltier could make debuts at The Den.
 
And ahead of the trip to south east London, Bilić says he’s more than happy with the “healthy” competition in his squad.
 
Slaven said: “With the addition of those few players we have the squad that we really need for the rest of the season. It is a big competition between them, a very healthy one. Everybody wants to play and prove themselves in training and that is a blessing for a manager.
 
“At one stage of the season, we were a bit short on some positions or we had to overload the players a bit, but now the players are back from injuries or suspensions. We have got three new really good players and we are going to need all of them throughout the rest of the season. 
 
“Nathan Ferguson is out, Gareth Barry has a tight calf but he is days from coming back and Gibbo has started to train with us - he is on his programme and should be back for a match very, very soon. 
 
“We already had a good atmosphere in the camp, but a win helps. Especially when we really needed it - you need it every time, but we needed it especially. It is all positive; we have one more day to train and also rest the players, we are in a good situation and in good spirits.
 
“We hope we have a good run and we are planning to do that. We have a very difficult game, not only one, but all of them. As I said, we have respect for the opponent, as it is a very strong league, but at the same time, we are very confident and we know what we want to do and we are well prepared for it.
 
“To get a positive result at Millwall we have to be on top of our game and when you play them away you have to be very solid. You have to be good on second balls, good in transition, good in physical contact, good in the air, good at set-pieces, very concentrated, very focused, good in tackles - because there is going to be a lot of them, but also you have to match them or beat them and be good on the ball and be very direct and very up for it.
 
“Every away game is difficult in this league. Millwall is more difficult in some ways, but there are a lot of away games that are difficult with the way the opponent keeps the ball or is very good at counter-attacking. It is a tough game, but so is every other league game. 
 
“They have a good team, they are on a good run, they are very physical, they have the stadium and they are talking that the weather is not going to be the best and the pitch is not the best so it is a big challenge for us, but it is not the first time facing an opponent who is going to play like that.”
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