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EFL Cup: West Brom vs Sheffield United - Match preview

Boss Steve Bruce is planning a raft of changes as Albion’s EFL Cup campaign begins at home to Championship rivals Sheffield United tonight.

Okay Yokuslu of West Bromwich Albion and Callum Robinson (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Okay Yokuslu of West Bromwich Albion and Callum Robinson (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Hawthorns is set for its second 8pm kick off of the week with Bruce’s men beginning a busy period of fixtures ahead of the November World Cup break.

The Baggies chief will ring the changes to the side that impressed against Watford on Monday in a bid to hand minutes to squad players as well as offering first-team regulars a breather ahead of Sunday’s trip to Blackburn’s Ewood Park.

There is likely to be a first start since his Albion return for Okay Yokuslu, who played 15 minutes against the Hornets on Monday.

There will be inclusions for squad options Kyle Bartley, Alex Mowatt – a loan target for Middlesbrough – Adam Reach, Matty Phillips and Callum Robinson, who is back in the fold after injury and links away. Alex Palmer, who turned 26 yesterday, could start in goal.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman was left out of the 18 against Watford but will be involved against the Blades in a first round tie that goes straight to penalties if level on 90 minutes. Young full-backs Zac Ashworth, Ethan Ingram and striker Reyes Cleary, who recently signed a first professional deal, may get a call, likewise fellow under-23 youngsters Mo Faal, Tom Fellows, Rico Richards and Jamie Andrews.

Kenneth Zohore, Albion’s No.9 who is free to find a new club, is unavailable due to a lack of fitness.

Asked about Yokuslu, Bruce said: “He’ll play. All of them who need to play will play, who were on the bench (v Watford). We’ll introduce one or two young ones.

“It’s normal. I’d think most clubs would be doing exactly the same thing, so I’ll be playing all the ones who need to play.”

The manager added of Gardner-Hickman’s absence: “I brought Robinson back because I needed an attacking player. He’s a bit unlucky that he’s missed out, but he’ll play.

“Robbo is back in, he’s back in the squad and is back fit again.

“Unfortunately he (Zohore) pulled up a week ago, he’s picked up an injury too. He’s joining in tomorrow but he’s got to have a sustained period where he trains because unfortunately he’s not done enough just yet to get in that position physically.”

Exciting youngster Cleary scored twice for Albion under-23s in a win over Bruce’s former club Newcastle on Tuesday and the manager grinned on the prospect of involvement for the 18-year-old: “Why not? He scored twice against Newcastle, which was delightful.”

Nine Championship clubs were involved in Carabao Cup ties against lower-ranked opposition on Tuesday night and all lost and exited the competition.

The early rounds are generally an opportunity for bosses to shake up their ranks but it is likely the competition will take even less importance due to the chaotic schedule.

Bruce said: “It’d be nice to have a cup run, but everyone will be doing what we’re doing because it’d be madness not to, with the amount of fixtures we’ve got. If we beat Sheffield United, then that’s another one.

“It’s about 13 games in the first few weeks. When we play three games a week, the injury rate goes up 600%. This is why we do it. A player can play everyday if he wants, but he’s not going to play with the intensity that we’ve seen tonight.

I’ve got to make sure we rotate it, all the players who need to play, and there are some good players sitting on our bench, we’ll use them.”

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