Premier League preview: West Brom v Aston Villa
By Football News
West Brom manager Steve Clarke has ruled out further signings but hopes key players will return for Saturday's Midlands derby with Aston Villa.
The Baggies were as high as third in late November but has slipped to seventh after just two wins in their past nine Premier League fixtures.
A disappointed Clarke will be looking to turn around their mid-week FA Cup defeat to QPR with midfielder Claudio Yacob and striker Shane Long rated a '50-50' chance of returning for the visit of Paul Lambert's men.
"Ten months is a long season – there will be periods where things don't go for you but we need to turn it around against Aston Villa," Clarke said of West Brom's recent woes.
"Claudio has trained a couple of days. He has a chance for Saturday – he's 50-50. Shane's dead leg is improving – he's 50-50 too.
"But I won't risk any of my players. If they're fit they'll play, if not they won't."
Defender Jonas Olsson and striker Peter Odemwingie were subjects of bid from rival clubs during the week but Clarke insists there is no need to make changes to the squad in January.
Lambert's Villa were left desperately frustrated to lose to relegation rivals Southampton last Saturday.
A controversial penalty was enough to win it for the visiting Saints, a result that leaves an inexperienced Villa squad languishing in the relegation zone by a point.
Lambert is looking at Toulouse enforcer Moussa Sissoko to bolster his threadbare midfield but it is the defence, where Villa have conceded an equal league-worst 42 goals, that is of graver concern.
It's a vitally important fixture for Villa's Premier League survival hopes ahead of a heavy fixture load with a League Cup tie against Bradford and an FA Cup clash with Millwall.
Villa are still without Chris Herd (ankle), Shay Given (hamstring), Darren Bent (knee), Marcus Albrighton (ankle), Gary Gardner (ACL) and Richard Dunne (groin).
West Brom are missing Zoltan Gera (ACL), with Long, Yacob and Marc-Antoine Fortune all a chance to play.