Carlos Corberán discusses trio of challenges players face in final fixtures

Carlos Corberán stood with his arms crossed on the side of the pitch at The Hawthorns during an Albion game

Carlos Corberán believes there are three main challenges his squad must overcome if they’re to achieve their targets at the end of the 2023/24 Sky Bet Championship campaign.

The Baggies welcome mid-table Sunderland to The Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon for a clash which provides another big opportunity to move closer to securing a spot in the play-offs.

Albion head into the fixture nine points clear of seventh and eighth placed Coventry City and Preston North End respectively, with four matches remaining in the second tier. 

Both the Sky Blues and the Lilywhites have played one game less than Corberán’s team, who occupy fifth going into matchweek 43. 

The boss insists the players are going to face “emotional, physical and tactical” hurdles in the next few weeks and says they must find ways to clear them.

Carlos Corberán shouting to his players on the side of the pitch at The Hawthorns

Carlos said: “Saturday will not be easy for us at all, but it’s a massive game for us in terms of motivation because we are trying to achieve our target and our best level of performance.

“Nobody can guarantee the number of points needed to guarantee a place in the play-offs. 

“The play-offs are a step between right now and the final target. It’s not the final target. The last step is promotion to the Premier League, however, only three teams in this division with 24 teams in achieves this. 

“That shows how difficult it is, especially this year with three big clubs coming down from the Premier League and one impressive performer coming up from League One in Ipswich.

Carlos Corberán arriving at The Hawthorns before an Albion game

“We cannot lose our motivation and we cannot become nervous or afraid. If we play with extra pressure on ourselves, we are giving ourselves an extra emotional challenge.

“Another challenge is the physical one. We’ve played a lot of games and we’ve played a lot of games in-a-row, and it’s different playing them now compared to the middle of the season.

“In this moment on Saturday, we will face another physical challenge and we have to be ready for that.

“We also have the tactical challenge that we have in all 46 league games. These are our challenges. Emotional, physical and tactical.”

Carlos Corberán from the side watching an Albion game

The Black Cats are 13th in the standings and come into this weekend’s encounter on the back of two goalless draws.

They took a point off title-chasing Leeds United at Elland Road on Tuesday and the boss described Saturday’s showdown with Sunderland as a “massive game”. 

“I think sometimes the position a team finds themselves in in the table shows more about injuries and turbulent moments than the level of the squad.

Sunderland players celebrate scoring a goal at Birmingham City's St Andrew's

“Right now, if I analyse Sunderland’s squad it’s easy to see that they are a very good squad and I saw that against Leeds the other night.

“They drew with them at Elland Road and they’ve kept two clean sheets in-a-row now. It’s not easy to do that.

“They are a very attacking team with a lot of good players. They’ll be competitive and it’s a massive game.

“Anyone who watched Tuesday’s game at Leeds will know how difficult it will be for us, but we have to focus on the things we know can help us win the game. We know how important it is to get a positive result.”

  • Corberan