West Brom’s fringe players have been challenged to stake a claim to play Barclays Premier League football by impressing in tomorrow’s Carling Cup clash with Manchester City.
First team coach Michael Appleton has laid down the gauntlet to the players currently not in favour with head coach Roberto Di Matteo in the third-round Hawthorns encounter.
The Baggies altered their whole starting XI for the 2-0 win at Leyton Orient in the previous round with top-flight survival their main priority this season after promotion.
Appleton does not anticipate so many changes against City but still expects Di Matteo to make full use of his first-team squadl.
Many of the side which overpowered Birmingham 3-1 at the weekend are expected to be rested or named amongst the substitutes.
But former Albion defender Appleton said: “It’s another opportunity for some of the lads that played at Leyton Orient to stake a claim.
“I think you can obviously expect some changes against Manchester City.
“I don’t think there will be as many as there were against Orient.
“But it’s an opportunity for the head coach to use his squad.
“I think we have a few more bodies in the squad than we did last season and the season before.
“There are also a couple of lads bruised and battered from the weekend because, with it being a derby, there was a bit more in it than some of the other games.”
The likes of Steven Reid, Gianni Zuiverloon, Giles Barnes and Roman Bednar will come into the equation to face Roberto Mancini’s side.
Left-back Nicky Shorey is likely to be one of the few survivors from the Birmingham win as Marek Cech is still injured and Joe Mattock is not ready to return although he is back in training.
Appleton said: “The problem with Joe at the minute is that he’s not had a full day’s training with the lads. I think Wednesday will be too soon for him.”
Di Matteo may also give a run-out to midfielder Graham Dorrans who missed the draw with Tottenham because of a family bereavement and only returned as a substitute against Birmingham.
Dorrans has struggled to recapture the form of last season which saw him emerge as a summer target for West Ham before he signed a new long-term deal with Albion.