West Brom v Millwall: Valerien Ismael ponders his options after international break

They have rested, re-charged and now the challenge is to go again.

Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion is interviewed after the match for WBA \ West Bromwich Albion TV \ Television. (AMA)
Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion is interviewed after the match for WBA \ West Bromwich Albion TV \ Television. (AMA)

Valerien Ismael’s first five games as Albion boss couldn’t have gone much better.

The opening day draw at Bournemouth was followed by four successive victories.

And that saw the Baggies head into the international break sitting joint top of the Championship alongside promotion rivals Fulham.

In the build-up to the win at Peterborough a fortnight ago, Ismael’s message to the players was clear.

He knew they had all worked relentlessly to adapt to the demands that come with his high intensity style of play.

And so he told them following the trip to London Road they would all be given extended leave to coincide with the international break.

That downtime was granted, though, with the strict instruction the players rest so they can come back and once again perform with the energy levels Ismael demands.

If they do, they will then get a similar rest and recuperation period during October’s international break.

Millwall are the visitors to kick-start this batch of games.

And it’s fair to say Ismael has some decisions to make when it comes to his team selection.

The big one is who is going to start as the left-sided centre-back in Albion’s back three.

The Baggies were rocked during the international break when Dara O’Shea broke his ankle while playing for the Republic of Ireland.

And with Matt Clarke already sidelined with a hamstring injury, Ismael swooped to sign free agent Kean Bryan.

Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi will fill two of the three centre-back slots tomorrow.

But it’s going to be fascinating to see what Ismael does with the one remaining spot.

Cedric Kipre could come in, in a move that would probably see him start on the right with Ajayi on the left. Bryan could be thrown straight into the team – although that is unlikely given his lack of pre-season.

Or Ismael could decide to play Conor Townsend there – something the 25-year-old did successfully at Peterborough.

If that’s the case, Adam Reach will come into the side at left wing-back.

Elsewhere, Albion will likely line-up as expected in Ismael’s 3-4-3 system.

Darnell Furlong will continue at right wing-back.

In central midfield, Ismael will be able to call on Jayson Molumby for the first time.

He, though, is likely to be on the bench with Alex Mowatt and Jake Livermore continuing what, so far, has been a fine partnership in the middle of the park.

Up front, fellow new recruit Jordan Hugill has spent the international break getting used to Ismael’s methods.

He, though, is also likely to be amongst the subs with Matt Phillips, Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant and Grady Diangana all battling for the three forward roles.

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