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West Brom taking no risks with first XI before play-offs

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Albion plan to manage their first XI during the remaining games of the season to give them the best chance of a full-strength squad for the play-offs.

Ahmed Hegazi is expected to make a swift recovery. (AMA)

The Baggies already have one eye on the play-offs, and took Ahmed Hegazi and Kieran Gibbs off as a precaution at the weekend.

Hegazi is expected to make a swift recovery from the slight knock he picked up against Preston North End while Gibbs was removed on the hour mark just to be safe having recently returned from a hip injury.

Matt Phillips, who has only started two of the last 17 games, will be carefully drip-fed minutes in order to build up his fitness.

Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez may also be managed over the Easter weekend when Albion have two games in four days in order to keep the strikers with 42 goals between them out of the red zone.

Albion look destined to finish in the top six. They are nine points behind the automatic promotion places with four games remaining and nine points clear of seventh.

They will be keen to go into the play-offs with momentum, and want to hold on to fourth place in order to secure a home tie for the second leg of the semi-final.

But Albion are also desperate to have as many of their star players as fit as possible.

Gayle has urged the Baggies to finish the regular season on a high.

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“It’s been a bit of a stop-start season,” he admitted. “We go on a good little run and then get a bit of a stumbling block.

“It’s important that we go into the end of the season with a bit of confidence now.

“At the end of the day (the play-offs) are a lottery really and you just need to go in and try your best as well as needing a bit of luck at the same time.

“Fingers crossed we get that and hopefully we can do it.”

Meanwhile, the Baggies are not interested in Sunderland boss Jack Ross, despite reports linking him to the vacant managerial post.

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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