By Joe Ellis

21st Jan, 2022 | 2:47pm

Defensive duo nearing return to ease West Brom issues

West Brom have received a boost ahead of their Championship fixture against Peterborough United with two senior centre backs nearing fitness again.

Valerien Ismael issued an update on the fitness of Kyle Bartley and Dara O’Shea, who have been out of action for a number of games, as well as how Daryl Dike has come along in his short time at the club so far.

Full-backs Darnell Furlong and Connor Townsend have previously filled gaps in the Baggies back three but their spell as central defenders is nearing the end.

Steve Madeley on Twitter provided the key points from Ismael’s pre-match press conference on the injuries and their recovery.

“Bartley back in training since midweek so available if he comes through today. Dike fitter than last week but not yet ready for 90 minutes so decision to be made whether he starts and comes off or is on the bench again,” Madeley tweeted.

“Dara O’Shea pencilled in for a 45-minute comeback for the U23s at Birmingham on Monday. Might be in contention for a first-team return some time in February.”

Vital to Ismael

It is difficult for West Brom to play their preferred three central defenders when they haven’t got that many fit and ready to play.

Townsend and Furlong have done reasonable jobs deputising in the position but there is no questioning the strength a natural centre-half would bring to the Baggies.

While O’Shea is still a couple of games away, having the vast experience of Bartley back in the fold is needed more than ever with Semi Ajayi away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria.

But even more encouraging for West Brom fans is the news that Dike is in line to start Saturday’s fixture, even if he is unable to play the full 90 minutes just yet.

Dike would add a whole new dimension to West Brom’s attack with more direct balls from defence now having a genuine target to aim for rather than the wash of smaller strikers that have previously entertained the role this season.

In other West Brom news, this League One star has rejected the Baggies in favour of a move north of the border.