West Bromwich Albion were today facing a derby-day defensive crisis after an injury to Liam Ridgewell completed a miserable Capital One Cup defeat by Liverpool.
Boss Steve Clarke is sweating on the fitness of three full-backs ahead of his fourth-placed side’s trip to Villa after Ridgewell limped out of last night’s 2-1 Hawthorns defeat with a sore calf.
The former Villa man is now a doubt for Sunday’s visit to his former club with Steven Reid (hamstring) and Goran Popov (groin) still battling for fitness, leaving Billy Jones as the only senior full-back certain to be available.
Clarke said: “I’ve not had an in-depth analysis of Liam’s injury. He felt something on his calf and he went off.
“The full-back areas are a concern for the weekend. We’ll assess what we’ve got today and if I can get one or two from the treatment room onto the training pitch I’ll do that. If not, we’ll just deal with it.
“It would be a blow to lose Liam because he’s played every game for us and he’s one of the steady players in the team.
“It would be disappointing for Liam to miss the Villa game – and it would certainly be disappointing for us as well.”
The Baggies bowed out of the Capital One Cup at the third-round stage as on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin scored twice for Liverpool after Gabriel Tamas had fired the hosts ahead on three minutes.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster’s error handed Sahin his first goal as the Albion No.1 conceded at The Hawthorns for the first time in seven appearances – a run stretching back to March.
Clarke said: “It’s unusual for Ben. It’s not even worth having an in-depth discussion about it. It doesn’t happen very often and we move on.
“We said we’d ‘have a go’ and we certainly started that way but I think their goal sort of knocked the stuffing out of us a little bit.
“Maybe it was because it was such a soft goal to lose.
“After it became 1-1, they were better, passed it better, and we sat off them too much.
“The second half was much better, we got about them and pressed to make a game of it. The second half could have gone either way.”