Express & Star

Carlos Corberan maps out Jed Wallace and Josh Maja return plan ahead of Sunderland

Jed Wallace is poised to return for Albion's visit of Sunderland – while striker Josh Maja will miss out in favour of an hour of under-21s action on Friday night.


Club captain Wallace missed Wednesday's victory over Rotherham at The Hawthorns due to illness but has recovered and will be involved against the Black Cats on Saturday, providing he comes through Friday afternoon's training unscathed.

Maja, meanwhile, is unlikely to feature against his former club – against whom he ruptured ankle ligaments in December leading to months on the sidelines – and will instead receive a big fitness boost with a start for Richard Beale's under-21s away at Manchester City this evening.

Last year's free transfer signing Maja returned from injury in the closing stages of the 2-0 Rotherham success and got a very useful 10 minutes under his belt.

That is the plan Corberan and his medical and physical staff have concocted and the head coach added that "sacrificing" Maja's availability for Sunderland in favour of more minutes at youth level will help the striker be ready to influence the first team in the three fixtures – plus the likelihood of play-offs – ahead.

Corberan said in Friday afternoon's press conference: "Maja will play tonight with the under-21s if the training (for Wallace) goes well, if Wallace feels completely fine and everybody is available from the previous game.

"He needs this game time that we don't have the possibility to give him another way, from the physical staff and from the coaching staff, it's exactly what he needs if we want to see him helping the team.

"Sometimes we need to, let's say, sacrifice one game if we want to help him be ready, sometimes if you don't make this sacrifice you can spend two months' time to make him available to play as we cannot forget he has been injured from the Sunderland game until now, so a lot of months, which needs some time."

The head coach added: "Some game time is always going to have more impact than training time, especially the training he was able to do.

"He has been working physically a lot, but there is a moment he needs football. What he was able to do on Wednesday was massively more important, mentally, technically, tactically, the relationship with the ball, goal, team-mates, fans, opponents, things that are football that if he can complete the minutes we've targeted, then the (Rotherham) game exposure can help him more.

"If he completes the minutes today (with the under-21s) it's the best plan to get him ready to compete."

The boss said of Wallace: "Yesterday he was better and doing something with the medical staff. Today we train in the afternoon and if he trains well then he will be ready to be available with the team."

Corberan's men can all-but seal a play-off place with a win over mid-table Sunderland tomorrow, which – if results go Albion's way – could put 12 points between the Baggies and seventh with only four games remaining for rivals.

The Spaniard has a decision on whether to re-introduce left-back Conor Townsend, midfielder Alex Mowatt and attacker Grady Diangana back into his starting line-up after the trio were handed breathers earlier this week in favour of Adam Reach, Yann M'Vila and John Swift.