Shropshire Star

West Brom boss Valerien Ismael hails 'laser-focused' Matt Phillips

Albion boss Valerien Ismael has hailed 'laser-focused' Matt Phillips, as he adapts to his new role.


Ismael has used Phillips as a central striker throughout pre-season, often flanked by Grady Diangana and Karlan Grant - but it's not a role the 30-year-old has regular experience within.

Phillips has been utilised as a striker with the Scottish national team, and former Albion boss Tony Pulis did hold a belief that it's a position he could do well in - and Ismael has also spotted his potential in that role.

He netted twice in the 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, but also featured up-front against Woking and Watford - and the new boss says he's been very important for his 3-4-3 system.

"I think he's very important for our game [in that position]." He said.

"He gives us everything we need, he gives confidence in the front three. He's already scored goals in pre-season and he improves every week."

"This is what I like and he's really focused, he has a laser focus.

"He wants to improve, he asks a lot of questions and he wants to help the team and this is what we need - commitment to the team, dedication to the way we play and commitment to our success."

Another player who impressed for Albion at Vicarage Road was Diangana, who was a constant thorn in the Hornets' side throughout the first half.

The winger is set to be a crucial player this season, having struggled to feature regularly following his permanent move to The Hawthorns last summer - but Ismael believes he's growing stronger as he looks to bring the best out of his squad.

"Step by step he's become stronger and he's on the front foot." Ismael said.

"Grady, KG, Matty they all perform for us. It's a big season in front of the players and we can see how with players with the philosophy I feel we can improve on it and for sure the confidence within the players."

"But we need to work on their fitness, because we saw that in some situations we need too much time to come back into the shape and to go again but it's all in the process."

Meanwhile, Albion have confirmed ticketing details for the weekend clash with Birmingham City at St. Andrews.

Tickets for the pre-season game go on sale today for season ticket holders only, with the Baggies handed an allocation of 1,900 for the clash at St. Andrew's.