Valerien Ismael: Brainpower key for West Brom's midfielders

Albion’s Valerien Ismael believes central midfield is one of the most mentally challenging roles in his team – as the boss continues to weigh up his options ahead of today’s clash with Bristol City.

Alex Mowatt of West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Alex Mowatt of West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Baggies welcome Nigel Pearson’s side to The Hawthorns today looking to bounce back from their loss at Swansea on Wednesday.

Albion will be without skipper Jake Livermore, who picked up his fifth booking of the season in Wales.

And there is also a doubt over his midfield partner Alex Mowatt who is struggling with a foot injury.

Republic of Ireland international Jayson Molumby will start today.

But if Mowatt doesn’t make it, Robert Snodgrass is likely to come into Albion’s midfield two.

And Ismael believes you need a lot of intelligence to play in the middle of the park in his 3-4-3 system.

“For all my players it’s a brain game – what we expect with the press situation and to recognise the right decisions,” the boss said.

“But in some areas, you need to understand more quickly what is going on and to give the information to the front three or the centre-backs.

“The midfield position is a massive position for us as a strategic position.

“For sure you need the football skills we need.

“But in the midfield, you need a clear picture and understanding of what is going on on the map.”

Ismael, speaking at his pre-Bristol City press conference yesterday, said Mowatt will be given every opportunity to play today.

“We’ll see, we’re assessing him (Mowatt) every day,” the boss said.

“If he has the chance to play, he will, but we’ll see in this afternoon’s training session.

“We don’t want to take any risks, for sure we want to have Alex, but my focus is always to get players 100 per cent fitness without any issues.

“This is what we’re working on with Alex.”

One player who will be in today’s squad is Grady Diangana – with the forward having missed the recent matches against Birmingham and Swansea with a groin strain.

“Grady is fine,” Ismael added.

“If nothing happens this afternoon he will be back in the squad.

“It is a big boost to have him back.

“It’s important to have those players who can be game-changers.”

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