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West Midlands football renaissance

Birmingham | Sport | Published:

Albion's promotion back to the Premier League means West Midlands football is preparing for its biggest season in a generation.

Albion's promotion back to the Premier League means West Midlands football is preparing for its biggest season in a generation.

Not since 1984 have arch-rivals Wolves and the Baggies been in the top flight together, with next campaign also set to be the first time all four major West Midlands clubs have been among the elite since 1983/84.

Molineux manager Mick McCarthy, who looks like keeping his side in the Premier League for the first time with Wolves six points clear of the drop zone, crossed the Black Country divide to offer his appreciation to Albion counterpart Roberto Di Matteo.

The Wolves boss said: "My word of congratulations were to Roberto Di Matteo who I texted to say 'well done.' I think he's a good fellow and look forward to hopefully playing him next year.

"I don't know about the derbies for now though, I'm just looking forward to getting enough points so I can go on my holidays!"

Di Matteo expects Wolves to stay up after leading Albion to back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

He said: "I don't even know where Wolves are in the table but I guess they have a good chance. If we play Villa, Birmingham and Wolves they will all be good derbies and they will add some extra spice to the season.

"It's something I am cherishing, yes."

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But McCarthy has warned Albion the top flight is just as difficult if not more so than when they were relegated a year ago.

He said: "I think every single game we've had has been tough. We've improved as a team and as a staff, we've all learned about being in the Premier League and that that there are different ways of getting points.

"We had great matches at Villa and West Ham and it was a scrap against Stoke, but we picked up a hard-earned point."

Albion striker Roman Bednar is relishing all the big games.

He added: "I don't know which games I'm looking forward to the most because all the matches are big.

"The derby games or the ones against one of the big four are special."

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