Express & Star

West Brom weigh up transfer plans after Matt Phillips injury blow

Carlos Corberan admits surgery for Matt Phillips has influenced Albion’s transfer plans ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

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Winger Phillips, 31, is unlikely to play again this season due to an operation on his quad today that will bring a recovery time of three to four months.

Head coach Corberan was already understood to be in the market for a central midfielder – Fulham’s Nathaniel Chalobah was a target but Albion could not strike a deal – but Phillips’ lengthy setback could force the club’s hand ahead of Tuesday’s 11pm deadline.

“We are still looking for the player or the players that we think can help us to improve,” Corberan said. “I know that the market, especially this one, is not easy.

“I know the club is making all the effort that they can, and they still need the time. We have some days left to see if we can make the improvements that we are going to be looking to make.

“Right now, I think there is one main position we need to cover. We have the possibility after that to look at alternative positions.

“Of course the injury of Phillips affects our type of decisions, it affects too which steps the players who can play in this position are going to give.”

Equally, Corberan challenged his current squad to limit the damage felt in Phillips’ absence. He added: “We still have in Wallace, Diangana, Grant – it’s clear he can now play more on the left – and Reach, the players we need to give the steps which are necessary because Matty Phillips has been, for me, a very important player since I arrived.”

Phillips barely started earlier in the campaign under Steve Bruce and it appeared the winger, out of contract in summer 2024, faced a fight to return to Albion’s first team.

The long-serving former QPR and Blackpool man is commonly seen as one of the club’s best trainers and characters behind the scenes. Corberan echoed this when he revealed the experienced winger regularly joins the Baggies coaching staff for breakfast.

But he now faced a long period of rehabilitation – but The Hawthorns head coach added it can open opportunities for others, such as left-back Erik Pieters recently flourishing in the heart of defence.

“He only started one game before I arrived I think – the first game against Middlesbrough – after he played as a wing back, I think in Steve’s last game against Luton,” added Corberan.

“After he played as a wing back when Rich took the team, but for us he is one player who has been very important.

“Of course I am going to miss him, not only from the football perspective but professionally – he’s a player who comes with us to have breakfast with the staff every morning.

“The medical department will be working many hours with him, but he’s a very professional player with a level of commitment which makes me proud to be working with him. Nowadays when these challenges appear, there are opportunities for other players to make steps forward.

“Like Erik Pieters – with the injuries to (Semi) Ajayi and (Kyle) Bartley he came forward in a position with a commitment to the situation and to the position which isn’t his main one.

“Now is a moment for another to help the team, but always it’s our job to analyse the market to see the possibilities about improving the squad.”