Chris Brunt ready to answer West Brom's defensive SOS

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Albion captain Chris Brunt looks set to be handed a defensive SOS as boss Pepe Mel gears up for the biggest game of his Hawthorns reign on Saturday.

Mel has branded the weekend's clash with West Ham as a "cup final" as the Baggies look to drag themselves away from the Premier League drop zone.

And Brunt looks set for a switch to left-back with Liam Ridgewell facing scans today to determine whether his season is over because of a knee injury that forced him to limp off in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City last night.

Ridgewell looks almost certain to miss the meeting with the Hammers, which Mel has admitted is the biggest game since he arrived.

"It really is the most important game," said the Spaniard. "It can be the game that can spur us on and give us that life."

Mel initially claimed Ridgewell would miss the remaining four games with an ankle problem, but Baggies medics later confirmed the injury was to Ridgewell's knee and he might return before the end of the season.

But, with on-loan Goran Popov frozen out, Brunt looks set to move to left-back. Mel said: "Brunt can do a really good job in this role and I'm certain that Ridgewell will not be available for the West Ham game.

"Popov has not played for a very long time and this game against West Ham is absolutely vital."

Centre-back Gareth McAuley could return on Saturday after missing out last night with a groin problem picked up in training.

Mel said: "He could well play on Saturday but the most important thing is to have a positive attitude.

"This game really is a final for us."

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