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West Brom's Slaven Bilic on Bristol City, Diangana, Gibbs and Barry

By Joseph Masi | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Albion head coach Slaven Bilic believes Bristol City will prove a much sterner test tomorrow than when the two teams met earlier in the season.

Grady Diangana remains around three weeks from returning from injury for West Brom (Image: AMA)

Back in November, the Baggies ran out thumping 4-1 winners at The Hawthorns thanks to goals from Kieran Gibbs, Matheus Pereira, Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin.

Tomorrow the two teams met again at Ashton Gate with Bilic's side looking to extend their unbeaten run in the Championship to five matches.

And the head coach is expecting a much closer match against a City side who currently sit outside the play-offs on goal difference.

"That was not ages ago, I remember that game – we played really well, they couldn’t cope with us that night," Bilic said when asked about the reverse fixture.

"We were the much better side, but I expect them to be better. We’re preparing that it will be that case.”

Asked what he expects from City, Bilic said: "Hardworking. They are there. They’re a very ambitious club, they’re in that position. Also the January transfer window showed us that they’re a very ambitious club.

“Some players they signed permanently, some players they signed on loan, so they showed they’re going to be there at the end of the season.

“They are a hardworking team, good individuals, but it’s more like they’re very solid.

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“Good strikers, compact. Hard to beat, very stubborn. Playing at home, good team.”

Bilic is close to having a fully fit squad at his disposal with Kieran Gibbs (groin) and Gareth Barry (calf) both in full training.

However, both players were expected to feature in Monday's under-23 clash with Norwich only for the game to fall foul of the weather.

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The only other absentees are Grady Diangana – who Bilic expects to to have back in three weeks as he returns to fitness from a back/groin issue.

While Nathan Ferguson is likely to miss the rest of the campaign with his knee problem.

"Kieran (Gibbs) has trained with us for 10 days,” Bilic said when asked about injuries.

“Unfortunately he didn’t play for the under 23s, the game was off and that was very important in his recovery, to have that game.

“He’s training with us. Gareth (Barry) trained also yesterday with us, so they are not injured, they’re training with us.

“Are they fit to participate in the game? We’re going to see. The best is to see them in games, but there are no games.

“Grady and Nathan are both the other ones. Grady is a few weeks away, yes. We’re at that final stage now where we don’t know if we’re going to be two or three.

“Of course the sooner the better, but it’s not a week, you know? I think it shouldn’t be more than, let’s say, tops three weeks, I don’t think.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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