West Brom V Crystal Palace at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

03 March 2017 07:34
West Brom V Crystal Palace - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

West Brom boss Pulis hoping to put aside legal battle for Crystal Palace visit

West Brom manager Tony Pulis is confident Crystal Palace fans will not act differently towards him after his legal battle with his former club sparked up again on Friday.

It has been reported that the Baggies boss has failed to repay a penny of the B#3.7million he owes former club Palace, with stories circulating that the Eagles are considering sending bailiffs to recover the debt.

West Brom host Premier League strugglers Palace at The Hawthorns on Saturday seeking an eighth win in nine home league games to keep them on the coat-tails of seventh-placed Everton ahead of next weekend's trip to Goodison Park.

"I'll let the lawyers do their work," said Pulis when the subject was raised at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"I'm not so sure the Palace fans will be (different towards me). They can make their own mind up. They were fantastic to me and what has happened off the pitch has been really disappointing, but I can't go into it.

"All I can say is I had a great time at Palace and the supporters were fantastic to me, especially towards the back end of the season when we got enough points to stay up.

"It was a magnificent season on the football pitch."

On the pitch, West Brom continue to exceed all expectations this season and remain surprise contenders for European football.

But the Baggies boss knows maintaining the good home run will not be easy.

"When you look at the Palace squad and the depth and the talent they've got, it's going to be a real tough game," he said.

"If supporters turn up and think we're just going to roll Palace over they're going to get a real shock. We've got to be on it and make sure everybody's up for it."

Pulis will check on the fitness of Matt Phillips after the winger missed the home win against Bournemouth with a hamstring injury.

Defender Craig Dawson has already been checked over and is fine to play after a bang to the head saw him withdrawn early in the second half against the Cherries.

Meanwhile, Christian Benteke "will not dictate" his own future amid reports he is considering leaving Palace, manager Sam Allardyce has said.

The striker arrived from Liverpool last summer for a club-record fee of B#27million but instead of transforming them into a top-10 team has found himself in another battle against relegation.

After last week's 1-0 defeat of Middlesbrough he argued with Andros Townsend at the final whistle after the winger chose to shoot instead of pass, and earlier this week was said to be debating leaving at the season's end.

"I think Christian Benteke signed a five-year contract (four), so we'll tell him what he'll do," said Allardyce, ahead of Saturday's trip. "He's our player and he'll not dictate what he wants to do or doesn't want to do, as far as I'm concerned. He accepted that contract in good faith.

"If both parties agree then that's a different matter but for me, rumours like that at this stage of the season: I wouldn't have thought he had said that.

"It's another rumour from another source which generally happens in the transfer window, not around this time. (It's the) usual speculation to try and stir the pot, I suppose."

The manager plans to capitalise on Palace's elimination from the FA Cup and the fact they do not have a fixture next week by taking his team away for a warm-weather break.

A previously-planned trip to Dubai had been cancelled after they lost 4-0 at home to Sunderland, and Allardyce has stressed the importance of them avoiding defeat on Saturday as they attempt to rescue their season.

"Winning gives you a lift but I would remind the lads about the lift we got winning at Bournemouth and then what we did against Sunderland," he said.

"If we win it'll be outstanding back-to-back victories but if not, please let's come away with a good result, a point.

"Scott Dann is fit to start. Whether he will play: there is a strong squad available for selection. But the team who played last week made a big statement as regards whether I change the side. The only consideration is tactically against West Brom, which might disappoint some, but then again might not.

"We've got to win three on the trot or three out of four or four out of five to get us out of trouble."

Source: PAR