Valerien Ismael ready to ring changes for West Brom’s season

Boss Valerien Ismael says squad rotation will be key if Albion are to be successful this year.

Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

Last season all EFL clubs were allowed to make five substitutions in a game – a rule that was brought in following the Covid-enforced break.

Ismael utilised that rule while in charge of Barnsley with the boss regularly making five changes in a game and often switching all three of his front players.

Now, though, the five substitutions rule has been scrapped with the English Football League returning to the traditional three.

And Ismael says that means players will need to be rotated if they are to cope with the demands of his high-pressing game.

"We need to manage it differently," the Frenchman said.

"This isn’t last season, last season there were 20 players in the squad and five substitutes – it was easier for me to have that rotation and to keep the pace high.

“This season we need to manage it game to game, maybe to rotate some players, especially when you play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday.

"We will see, but we’ll need every player and it’s important that every player stays focused, waits on his chance and, when it comes, gives 100 per cent.”

Ismael sprung a surprise when naming his team for Albion's Championship opener at Bournemouth – with Cedric Kipre getting the nod ahead of Semi Ajayi at centre-back.

And Ismael explained why he opted to decided to give Kipre his first league start in Albion colours.

"The decision was that Cedric has a calmer build-up," the boss added.

"We knew Bournemouth would put us under pressure so you need a centre-back who is able to deal with the pressure of the opponent.

"In the first half, he played some great balls – exactly as we wanted. He was calm in the build-up.

"But we have so many possibilities. It's a challenge for everybody and we will need every player. Everyone will play.

"They just have to stay focused and we might make a different decision for the next game because the opponent we will play will be different.

"We know we have five very good centre-backs. In that area, we have the choice to pick the player we need."

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