By Daniel Feliciano

27th Jul, 2022 | 1:10pm

Jake Livermore misses out, Daryl Dike starts - West Brom predicted XI v Middlesbrough

West Brom are set to kick off their new Championship season when they travel to the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough, with Steve Bruce having some decisions to make.

After a shocking tenth placed finish last season, the Baggies have bolstered their squad with three summer signings and have trimmed the fat with some exits being allowed to take place too.

Now after a decent pre-season, Bruce must decide on the starting lineup for the opening game of the season with hopes of getting the best start to the campaign possible.

Sam Johnstone has left the club after his contract expired, but David Button signed fresh terms to stick around and looks set to be installed as the number one for the upcoming season between the sticks after impressing.

Bruce has also made the decision to switch away from the five at the back system that was implemented last year, and a move to a back four means just two centre-back positions are available.

Semi Ajayi established himself as the first-choice defender once Bruce came in and his new contract cemented that place, and he is likely to start alongside the experienced Kyle Bartley for this game.

Darnell Furlong and Conor Townsend were regulars at wing-back last season but both are naturally full-backs and should find it easy to convert back to those roles to keep their starter status for the start of the season.

In midfield Jake Livermore has featured regularly during pre-season as captain, but illness means he could miss the season opener against Middlesbrough.

That gives Bruce the chance to hand summer signing Okay Yokuslu, who has returned on a free transfer after a short spell in the Premier League with the club the first time around back in 2021, a second debut in the holding midfield role.

Alongside him in the new 4-2-3-1 formation there are options, with Jayson Molumby and Taylor Gardner-Hickman also available. But the likelihood is that Alex Mowatt will be the man given the nod, to add a bit more attacking intent to the team.

Ahead of them in attack, there are likely to be two more debuts handed out as summer signings Jed Wallace and John Swift will start.

Wallace is likely to start ahead of Grady Diangana on the right wing, despite the 24-year-old’s great form during pre-season, while Swift has been excellent in the number ten role and will start there.

On the left last season’s top scorer Karlan Grant should keep his place in the starting lineup under Bruce, as he looks to pick up where he left off with eight goals in his last 11 appearances in the league.

Up front, Daryl Dike is finally fit and ready to go after suffering a hamstring injury after just three appearances following his £7m January move.

He is being entrusted as the first-choice striker for the coming season and will be hopeful of paying the Baggies back with goals this season after his disappointing start.

Predicted West Brom XI: Button; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Yokuslu, Mowatt; Wallace, Swift, Grant; Dike.

In other West Brom news, Carlton Palmer backs one man to get a position change this season