Daryl Dike to replace Karlan Grant amid knock reveal - West Brom predicted start XI v Watford
Steve Bruce is only going to make one key change to his West Brom team from the opening day draw for the visit of Watford in the Championship on Monday (8 August).
This early in the season the Baggies boss won’t want to rock the boat too hard by chopping and changing his line-up.
And after a creditable point away at Chris Wilder’s side, who finished one place outside of the playoffs last season, there is little reason to pull players out of the starting XI.
However, in the first home game of the season the Albion manager’s main decision will be to withdraw Karlan Grant in favour of big-money January signing Daryl Dike as he goes in search of goals.
Bruce revealed in his Thursday press conference that Grant, who was arguably the player of the year in a pretty dismal 2021/22 campaign, is carrying a slight complaint, which shouldn’t prevent his involvement entirely but should put the American up top ahead of him.
Grant, 24, should be on the bench, where he might be joined by Callum Robinson and returning midfielder Okay Yokuslu, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a minor knock turned out to be more significant come game day if he was missing.
The manager said on Thursday, via Express & Star: “”We’ve got a couple of knocks, one to Granty but we think he’s going to be okay.
“Robinson trains tomorrow, he’s trained all week. Okay looks a lot better than he did two weeks ago, so we’re in decent shape to be perfectly honest.”
Dike replaced his teammate late in the draw at the Riverside and is now finally back at the disposal of the manager who was deprived of him for the previous campaign, so the roles will likely be reversed at the Hawthorns on Monday.
Jed Wallace and John Swift, the pair of marquee free transfer signings who combined for the club’s only goal of the game when the latter assisted the former, are sure to start again, with Matt Phillips reprising his role as the third attacking support player.
Captain Jake Livermore made it through 90 minutes despite only just recovering from Covid, so if he played the entire opener there is every reason to expect he stays there, with Jayson Molumby, whose loan deal was made permanent in the summer, to be alongside him again.
Barring a late injury there is no reason to change the back four so early in the season, so the manager will look to build some continuity among his defensive unit by naming the same line-up.
David Button is the starter in goal until form or injury proves otherwise, so he will take his place between the sticks, behind Semi Ajayi and Dara O’Shea in the centre, with Conor Townsend on the left and Darnell Furlong on the right.
Appearances of the bench from Grant if he is there, and Grady Diangana, are likely if the Baggies need to push forward in attack, after both performed well in preseason.
And if Yokuslu is fit enough to be among the substitutes it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get some minutes late on in front of the home fans.