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West Brom's Kyle Bartley faces fitness test as Daryl Dike prepares for debut at QPR

Kyle Bartley will undergo a late fitness test ahead of Albion’s game at QPR – a match that will see Daryl Dike make his Baggies debut.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Reading at The Hawthorns on December 11, 2021 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Reading at The Hawthorns on December 11, 2021 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Valerien Ismael’s side travel to Loftus Road to take on their promotion rivals tomorrow facing a crisis in central defence.

Cedric Kipre is suspended, Semi Ajayi is at the African Cup of Nations, Kean Bryan is injured while Dara O’Shea has only just returned to training following surgery on a broken ankle.

And Ismael confirmed Bartley is also a major doubt after picking up a knock during the FA Cup defeat to Brighton last weekend.

“He (Bartley) has struggled this week,” the boss said.

“He’s improved every day, but we have another training session to assess the situation.

“We will see.”

While Albion are struggling for numbers at the back, new recruit Daryl Dike will be in the squad for the QPR game.

The striker was snapped up for an initial £7million from Orlando City on the first day of the January transfer window.

Ismael’s side has lacked a clinical frontman all season – something Fulham, Bournemouth and Blackburn boast in Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dominic Solanke and Ben Brereton Diaz.

It is hoped Dike will be that man.

But the American hasn’t played since the MLS season ended in November.

And Ismael says the striker isn’t yet ready to start – with Dike set to make his debut today from the bench.

“Last week was an individual week, this week at the beginning he was part-training with team and since Wednesday he has been training with the team in full,” Ismael said.

“He is on schedule.

“It’s good. After two weeks, he is ready to be involved in the game.

“He’s not ready to play from the start but for sure he will appear in the game.”

Ismael says it wouldn’t be fair on Dike to having him starting games too early.

“We are focused on our task with him,” the Frenchman continued.

“It’s clear Dike came as a number nine and we hope that he can score goals.

“But to do that we need to have a proper build-up.

“We can’t rush.

“We have our plan and he’s on the way.

“We’ve had two weeks and the next step is the game.

“With Dike we need to stay calm and step by step reach the right feeling.

“At the minute we are doing the right thing.

“And if we continue to do the right thing he will get a good feeling to attack the game.

“And when Dike is 100 per cent that will mean a lot of good situations from us.”

Meanwhile, Albion’s clash with fellow promotion chasers AFC Bournemouth has been re-arranged following the Cherries’ progression in the FA Cup.

The Baggies were due to welcome Scott Parker’s side to The Hawthorns on Saturday February 5.

However, with the South Coast men now facing Boreham Wood in the FA Cup fourth round, the league game has been moved to later in the season.

They will now travel to The Hawthorns on Tuesday, April 5, for an 8pm kick-off.

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