Carlos Corberán on Matty Phillips & Josh Maja availability & Millwall challenge

Carlos Corberán speaking to Matty Phillips out on the training pitch

Carlos Corberán has revealed Matty Phillips is now available for selection after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The Baggies No.10 suffered a hamstring injury during the first half of the club’s clash with Leicester City at The Hawthorns on Saturday, December 2 2023, and hasn’t featured since. 

Meanwhile, forward Josh Maja is edging closer to being back in contention having missed the last four months.

The Nigerian, who damaged the ligament in his ankle against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, December 9 2023, is training with the first-team squad, but is expected to complete another “seven-to-ten days” of work on the practice pitches before featuring in a Sky Bet Championship fixture. 

Corberán insists it’s incredibly positive to have the duo on the cusp of a return to action and believes both Phillips and Maja will “increase the levels” of his squad.

Matty Phillips attempts to control a ball during a training session at The Hawthorns
Matty Phillips could be part of Albion's squad at Millwall on Good Friday

The boss said: “It’s been very positive to have the injured players come back and work with the team.

“It’s always positive for them individually, but also for the group too because they increase the levels of training, and when they’re available, they increase the level of the squad.

“Right now, Josh will need probably seven-to-ten days more in terms of training before he can be available.

“Matty Phillips is now ready to be available with the squad.”

Josh Maja looking at the ball running forward during a training session at The Hawthorns
Josh Maja is edging closer to a return to action

Five senior stars spent time away from The Hawthorns with their respective national teams over the March international break.

Tom Fellows (England’s Men’s Elite League Squad), Mikey Johnston (Rebulic of Ireland), Semi Ajayi (Nigeria), Andi Weimann (Austria) and Callum Marshall have all returned to the Albion in a “very good condition” according to Corberán.

The rest of the group have had time to rest, recharge and work on key tactical and technical details at the training ground.

“The international break has been positive for the players. We had Semi Ajayi, Mikey Johnston, Andi Weimann, Tom Fellows and Callum Marshall away with their countries,” said Corberán.

“All of those players have come back into our group in a very good condition.

“I think the players are rested, recharged and ready to go. 

Carlos Corberán crouching down holding a football during a training session at The Hawthorns

“I think we have done the best that we could have done to make sure the first part of the break was about resting and recovering.

“It was necessary to be fresh mentally and physically.

“The second part of the break we worked and we focused on details that normally you cannot focus on when you are playing many games in-a-row. 

“We know that our next two games are going to be very demanding from the competitive point of view, so we tried to use the previous weeks to create a positive feeling and to grow in terms of the details that we need to improve on.”

Carlos Corberán holding a ball in the middle of a training session at The Hawthorns

The Baggies sit fifth in the Sky Bet Championship standings ahead of back-to-back fixtures over the Easter weekend against Millwall at The Den on Friday (ko 1pm) and Watford at The Hawthorns on Monday (ko 3pm).

Carlos is adamant a “strong mentality” is a crucial characteristic to have in order to achieve success at this important stage of a season.

“From the beginning, I have told my players that having a strong mentality is going to be key to achieving something important this season.

“The Championship is strong and all the teams have a similar level, so sometimes your mentality can be the key aspect to make the difference. 

“We have to keep our performance at the same level, we have to keep having a strong mentality and we need to be self-demanding. 

“To arrive to matches in a strong position, you have to have a fresh mindset. 

“When you get to the last month of the competition, you have the accumulation of games in your legs and in your mind. 

Carlos Corberán with his arms outstretched on the sidelines at The Hawthorns during a game

“It’s important to manage the weeks in terms of recovery and in terms of work to ensure the players always arrive to games in very good physical and mental conditions. 

“We know there are lots of points to play for, but our mentality has to be focused on the next game and the next game only. 

“Our full concentration is on Millwall because we know we are going to play against a strong team.

“With the change of the coach they have achieved some very good results and they have changed their momentum. 

“We have to compete in our best level on a pitch which I know will be difficult because we are going to face a lot of challenges, a lot of set-pieces and a lot of second balls. We need to be fully focused.

“In football, to achieve something, you have to be fully focused and we’re fully focused on facing Millwall.”

A general view of match action from Albion's clash with Millwall at The Hawthorns in September 2023
Albion and Millwall drew 0-0 at The Hawthorns earlier on this season

The boss has called on the club’s supporters to help give them an extra burst of “energy” in the final month of the term and stressed just how much of an important role they can play in helping his team finish inside the top six.

“Our supporters can help us a lot in this last period of the season, both away and at home.

“Their support gives us an extra level of energy in difficult moments of matches. 

“Our supporters live their lives with so much passion and intensity for our club. It’s so nice to see.

“It’s important for us to take energy from this and from our fans and their love for football and for the club. 

“The support our fans have been giving us this season has been fantastic and I know they will keep up that level. It’s necessary for us to have them giving this level of support because it can help us achieve what we want to achieve.”

  • Corberan
  • Phillips
  • Maja