By Joe Ellis

19th Jan, 2022 | 9:10pm

Joe Chapman picks out next three fixtures as crucial to West Brom season

West Brom have fallen out of the running for automatic promotion somewhat in recent weeks and their season could be defined in the upcoming games.

Joe Chapman, from the Birmingham Mail, has identified the Baggies’ next three games as crucial if Valerien Ismael wants to go straight back up to the Premier League.

Peterborough United, Millwall and Sheffield United are the next trio of opponents for West Brom and they can’t afford to struggle any longer.

“They’ve got to get seven or nine points, somehow. They have to force themselves back into contention for the top two.” Chapman wrote.

“While Fulham are hammering teams week in week out, Bournemouth got beat on Saturday. That was a big, big chance for Albion to claw some of the gap back. While Bournemouth are showing inconsistencies, Albion have to take advantage.

“Otherwise, another team will. Blackburn, who people expected to fall away by now but haven’t, will take advantage when it should be Albion up there.”

Forget automatic promotion

While the automatic places are still very much attainable for West Brom, it may be wise to turn attention away from the top two for now and just try to find some form.

The destructive form Fulham are in is likely to see them be uncatchable by any team in the Championship, not even second-placed Bournemouth.

The Cherries lost late on against Luton Town at the weekend and Blackburn Rovers are the team on their way up the league, drawing level on points for second.

The Baggies though were overtaken by QPR after their 1-0 defeat at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, dropping them to fifth.

Right now, the automatic promotion places seem a lightyear away from West Brom and they are more looking over their shoulder with a wave of teams trying to catch them and push them out of the playoff spots.

Ismael needs to gather his troops up and reset in an attempt to turn fortunes around at the Hawthorns, and that starts now.

In other West Brom news, this Champions League record-breaker has been put to the top of the transfer list with the Baggies interested.