Express & Star

Carlos Corberan impressed with Semi Ajayi West Brom response

Carlos Corberan has saluted Semi Ajayi for not hiding after a bad day as the boss leads Albion at promotion-seeking Sheffield United tonight.

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The Blades can secure an automatic ticket to the Premier League with a win, while Corberan’s men need to win to keep fading Championship play-off aspirations alive.

Defender Ajayi endured a tough Easter, notably at former club Rotherham, but has since been a stand-out performer and played well despite the damaging defeat against Sunderland on Sunday.

“It’s very important for me that when you lose a player as important as O’Shea was for us, the player that comes in has the challenge to reach his level,” Corberan said.

“Sometimes the first weeks after not playing are difficult weeks, you are out of the co-ordination with the line, out of co-ordination to play, you don’t have the same level of confidence because when you play you have confidence.

“When you are not playing the coach is watching something you are not doing well enough, or another player is doing something you are not doing.

“These things can create doubts, the first game he played, Rotherham away was very difficult for him, he knows, every player that didn’t give their level that game knows – he was not the only one not at the level.

“Some players after difficulty disappear and some players after difficult react, it is very clear what he has been doing. I am very pleased when I see this reaction in the players.”

Nigerian Ajayi missed a significant amount of football due to an injury at the end of August and did not find himself back as a regular in the side until Dara O’Shea’s season-ending injury during the spring internationals.

Albion will monitor midfielder Okay Yokuslu to see whether the Turk is fit enough to play again this evening following 85 minutes on his return from ankle injury on Sunday.

Nathaniel Chalobah’s foot is still in a protective boot after ankle ligament damage at Blackpool. Striker Daryl Dike’s surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon was due to take place on Monday but has been delayed for a week.

Corberan is anticipating a big occasion as a booming Bramall Lane crowd hope their side can get over the line to promotion.

The clash is Albion’s game in hand on rivals at the business end of the campaign as supporters eye results elsewhere and calculate the permutations.

“At the end, it’s 11 against 11,” Corberan continued. “It’s a question of using your resources, especially away.

“The team that wins is the one who uses their resources the best, and trying to have the necessary mentality to concentrate on your resources and strengths - and to have that personality.

“You can evaluate the players with three aspects – the capability, the desire and the personality. In one game, we need these three things in every player, because the three things are challenged – the capability because they are aggressive in pressing and attacking, desire to go for the three points and find energy after playing three days ago, to beat the fatigue.

“After, the personality – football is a question of this. We are going to be against 30,000 people who are fighting together to achieve promotion to the Premier League.

“It’s one of the best games you can play in, when there is a lot of value on the pitch.”