By West Brom News speaking to Kevin Phillips

18th Nov, 2020 | 12:35pm

'No-brainer' - Exclusive: Pundit tips West Brom duo to return for clash v Man Utd

We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…

Kevin Phillips believes West Brom duo Matheus Pereira and Branislav Ivanovic tested positive for COVID-19 at an ideal time before the international break.

Although both players missed the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham, their periods in self-isolation would be over well in time for Albion’s next Premier League match against Manchester United this weekend due to the current international fixtures.

When asked if the timing was ideal, Phillips told West Brom News: “Of course. It’s a no-brainer to suggest that.

“Nobody wants to see anyone catch the virus and miss a football match, certainly when it’s two of your key players – especially Pereira.”

West Brom are yet to win a Premier League match this season but despite being without Pereira and Ivanovic against Spurs, Slaven Bilic’s men put in what was arguably their best performance of the campaign in the 1-0 defeat.

Phillips believes the Baggies can build on that during the break but believes Pereira and Ivanovic will be back into Bilic’s side when they travel to Old Trafford on Saturday night.

The former Albion striker added: “It’s come at the right time and they’ll be ready for selection for the next game. It’s also probably come at the right time for the players and the manager to take stock, look at the videos and do a lot of stuff on the training ground if they can.

“West Brom need Ivanovic’s experience and they need to score goals so Pereira’s a key player for them.”

West Brom have had another player test positive for COVID-19 during the international break with Callum Robinson picking up the virus while with the Republic of Ireland squad.

Fortunately, he’ll be back and available just in time to feature against Manchester United this weekend too so Albion have been very lucky with the timing of their players testing positive.

It remains to be seen whether or not Ivanovic and Pereira will be straight back into the starting line-up due to the strong display versus Spurs without them.

But, as Phillips points out, the Baggies need goals and no one was involved in more goals at The Hawthorns than Pereira last season.

In other West Brom news, this Albion player was torn to shreds for his international performance last week.

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