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West Brom V Fulham at The Hawthorns : Match Preview
Published : 31 Dec 2012 16:01:28Rss feed
West Brom V Fulham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
Foster urges Baggies to build on solid start
Goalkeeper Ben Foster has challenged West Brom to replicate their form during the first half of the season as they launch 2013 with a home clash against Fulham on New Year's Day.
The Baggies are lying in seventh spot in the Premier League after collecting 33 points from the opening 20 matches.
But Foster insists head coach Steve Clarke will make sure there is no easing back even though a top-flight spot for another campaign is already virtually assured.
He said: "The gaffer is very big on not resting on our laurels. I know we've got 33 points and we probably look safe for the season - but that's not what we're aiming to do.
"We're trying to replicate the first half of the season and, if we can do something like that, you never know what can happen.
"We will just keep doing what we're doing. The gaffer is very good at not letting us get carried away or looking at this or that. We will just go about our business and see what's what."
Albion will be looking to make amends for one of their poorest performances of the campaign, a 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage in September, in a game where Peter Odemwingie was red-carded.
Foster said: "I don't think that result will affect us at all because there were strange circumstances in that game, including the sending-off.
"I just think we played rubbish on that day. We were so bad that 3-0 was a good scoreline for us because they absolutely hammered us.
"But it's a good few months down the line now and we've adjusted a lot more now so they will be coming to our place fearing us much more than we're fearing them."
Albion midfielder George Thorne could be given another start after impressing in the 2-0 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Thorne was recalled from a loan spell at Peterborough after injuries to Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob.
Clarke said: "George was excellent on Saturday. We knew before he went out on loan he was a good player. We'd used him previously in the first team in the Capital One Cup.
"It was a matter of getting him playing time on the pitch.
"He went out to Peterborough, we'd got fantastic reports on him, we knew he was doing well, and I had no doubts he could come in on Saturday and handle the situation."
Clarke will check on the fitness of Yacob and Mulumbu (both hamstring) plus defenders Jonas Olsson (groin), Goran Popov (hamstring) and Steven Reid (ankle) before finalising his side.
Martin Jol has admitted he can do little to shake up a Fulham squad in freefall ahead of their trip to the Hawthorns.
Jol takes takes the Cottagers to the club where he once starred as a player in the midst of the worst runs of his managerial career.
But his hopes of turning around a sequence of one win from 12 are being constrained by injuries to key men, leaving him without a great deal of room for manoeuvre.
"We have to pick ourselves up and there's not a situation where we can change the team in five or six positions," said Jol, whose side have dropped to within four points of the drop zone.
"And that means that a lot of players in my team have to play again and they've played a lot of games.
"There's a little bit of tiredness."
Jol did make six changes for Saturday's defeat to Swansea but one of those was bringing back the fit-again Bryan Ruiz and another was forced by an injury to goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
The loss of Schwarzer was particularly calamitous, with understudy David Stockdale effectively sealing his side's fate with errors for both the visitors' goals.
Jol was hopeful Schwarzer would recover from a neck injury in time for Tuesday's match but was less certain on the fitness of Damien Duff, who appears to have been missed badly over the festive period.
Ashkan Dejagah, who signed from Wolfsburg this season, was tasked with filling the void but has so far failed to do so.
"Ashkan Dejagah has been in and out," Jol said.
"We tried to build him up and he showed some very good signs of being a very good player, but he had to play all these games for the first time almost.
"He didn't play all the games at VfL Wolfsburg so hopefully Damien will be back to unload him a bit because there are a few players who have had to play all the games and this is not what you want."
Mladen Petric and Mahamadou Diarra are close to returning but not in time to face Albion.
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