Sam Allardyce expects the hairs on the back of the players’ necks to be sticking up when they hear Albion fans in full voice inside The Hawthorns once again on Wednesday night.
Around 5,500 Baggies are set to be in attendance for the visit of West Ham United (ko 8.15pm) in what will be the first game supporters have been present at in B71 since March, 2020.
The club have played in front of spectators just once during COVID-19 restrictions – a 1-1 draw at Anfield in December.
But Wednesday’s clash with the Hammers offers a limited number of supporters the opportunity to back the Baggies for the first time in more than a year, an occasion Allardyce expects to be incredibly “special” for all involved.
He said: “I think the fans can make a huge difference.
“We’ve certainly missed them and the encouragement they give us this season.
“I’m sure the players will have the hair on the back of their necks sticking up when they run out on to the pitch on Wednesday night because it has been that long since we’ve had supporters inside a stadium.
“The last time they experienced a fan atmosphere was when we drew 1-1 at Liverpool in December.
“We’ve got around 5,500 inside The Hawthorns on Wednesday and that will be such a thrill for everyone involved. It’s certainly going to be special.
“The fans getting behind the team and supporting them is what I’m hoping can be the difference for us in terms of getting a victory.
“I sometimes think about what might have been if they had been here at The Hawthorns throughout the campaign.
“We’ve had plenty of draws and I just wonder if their support may have pushed us over the line to get the victory like home fans do.
“When fans see the game in the balance they get behind their team and give the players the adrenaline to give an extra 5 per cent which can help towards getting victories.
“I’m sure the players will enjoy the reception they will get from the fans and I hope we can send them home happy with a victory.”