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Charlie Austin offers West Brom optimism as Gareth Barry discusses his future


MINI REPORT

West Brom are out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle after Millwall proved to be their undoing once again.

Goals in either half from Tom Bradshaw and Aiden O’Brien cancelled out a debut goal from Charlie Austin, who had handed Albion the lead inside the first ten minutes.

Slaven Bilic made nine changes to the side that had been frustrated by the same opposition on Saturday.

He handed debuts to new signings Austin and Grady Diangana, while Dara O’Shea and Darnell Furlong were also given opportunities to shine.

This is your round up of all things Albion; the one-stop shop that will keep you updated on the latest goings on at The Hawthorns and beyond.

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The Baggies started like a house on fire; enjoying plenty of the ball, the ball came to Diangana on the left and he obeyed orders from the fans to shoot.

He caught Luke Steele out – the Millwall stopper could only parry the ball onto the bar and then could only watch from the ground as Austin popped up and nodded the loose ball in from no more than a yard.

Once Millwall got a hold of the game, though, they looked comfortable.

Set-pieces proved to be Albion’s undoing, on both occasions; Bradshaw flicked on a Jiri Skalak free kick before the half hour mark, and then O’Brien bundled in the winner before the hour with Albion’s defence static.

In between Ajayi thought he’d restored the hosts’ lead when he headed home a Chris Brunt corner – the referee spotted something in the build up and it was chalked off.

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Slav says

It was a tale of two strikers for West Brom as they bowed out of the Carabao Cup.

While new arrival Charlie Austin enjoyed the perfect start – on a personal level, at least – with a goal nine minutes into his debut, Oliver Burke’s struggles in front of goal continued.

The Scot has scored a single goal for Albion – that being the winner in this round of the same competition against Luton a year ago – but a fruitful loan spell SPFL champions Celtic prompted optimism that the attacker might return to The Hawthorns rejuvenated.

Supporters were left frustrated in the second half as Austin’s planned exit meant that there was little to no presence in an attacking sense for a Baggies side chasing the game.

Former Southampton striker Austin did at least provide the one big positive of the evening.

 

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Player ratings

Bond 6

A quite magnificent double save kept the scores level at the end of the first half; he blocked a stinging shot from close range and then back-tracked to tip over a goalbound effort from distance.

The second goal was a messy one which resulted in him having the ball slipped beneath him.

Furlong 5.5

Looks a talent. Furlong thrives on getting forward and was able to skin Murray Wallace once or twice. His crossing wasn’t always accurate, but occasionally asked questions.

Intriguing battle going on at right-back now, where Albion have been weak for so long.

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Barry speaks

Gareth Barry is hoping that he’ll recover sufficiently from his knee injury in order to take up the offer of a third year at West Brom.

The veteran midfielder, whose impressive campaign last season was rather cruelly cut short because he required surgery, has continued training with Albion throughout the summer as he looks to rehabilitate smoothly following his operation.

New Albion boss Slaven Bilic has already indicated his intentions of handing Barry a new deal after his previous deal expired at the end of the club’s fateful last campaign.

Barry, who will turn 39 next February, is optimistic that he has one more Championship stint in him.

 

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Statto

A series of statistics that rose to prominence on social media recently have offered an intriguing insight into life under Slaven Bilic at West Brom.

Having been accustomed to low possession football and a less than easy on the eye style of play for extensive periods of their stay in the Premier League, the last couple of years have been a culture shift for supporters.

Darren Moore’s ‘you score three, we’ll score four’ mentality was an approach that failed to pay dividends over 46 games, but on his watch Albion dominated the ball and scored for fun.

Under successor Bilic, though, there appears to be more of a focus on the football – and the numbers don’t lie.

Championship Stats, an account on Twitter that goes by the handle @Champstat, have outlined some rather interesting facts and figures that show Bilic and Albion’s emphasis on passing.

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An Albion union?

Former West Brom defender Donervon Daniels is continuing to train with Luton Town as Graeme Jones weighs up whether to offer him a contract.

Daniels, who has been with Wigan and Blackpool since leaving The Hawthorns, was released by the latter at the end of last season and is on the look-out for his next club.

The 25-year-old has been invited to train with the Hatters, who have taken a point from their opening two Championship matches of the season, having suffered an injury denied him much of a pre-season.

Daniels, who was awarded the award of Young Player of the Year at Albion in 2012, was loaned out to Gillingham, Tranmere, Blackpool and Aberdeen during his time at The Hawthorns, but never made a first-team appearance.

Now former Baggies assistant Jones could offer him the chance to make the step up to the second tier once more.

 

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Dream come true

Boyhood West Brom fan Romaine Sawyers summed up his first Hawthorns run-out rather pertinently after featuring for Albion in their 1-1 draw with Millwall on Saturday.

Sawyers, who arrived back at Albion this summer after a six-year spell away, trod the same turf that had been graced by a number of his inspirations in stripes when he was a youngster.

The 26-year-old is doing what many thousands in the stands each week dream of doing, and such a privilege isn’t lost on him.

Having witnessed the talent of Jason Koumas, the leadership qualities of Jonathan Greening, the dynamism of Zoltan Gera and the wand of Chris Brunt – who he is now playing alongside – Sawyers was able to earn plaudits of his own this past weekend, even if the Baggies couldn’t quite round off their return to B71 with a victory.

 



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