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07 August 2017

Jonny Evans, Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez… how Tony Pulis will set up West Brom this season

IT HAS been a relatively quiet summer so far for West Bromwich Albion and their manager Tony Pulis.

Southampton attacker Jay Rodriguez has been the only major arrival at the Hawthorns since the last campaign ended.

Pulis’s team took part in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong in July
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Pulis oversees his West Brom side in a pre-season friendly at Burton
PA:Press Association

But, in truth, the Baggies already stand on solid foundations as they look ahead to the new campaign.

It will be their eighth consecutive season in the top flight and they have established themselves as Premier League regulars.

Following an impressive 10th place finish last term, Pulis need only tweak his squad rather than make a major overhaul.

West Brom will be hoping to build on their top-half return as the 2017/18 campaign begins.

But how will the Black Country side line up as they aim to continue their progress under Pulis?

Our friends at Football Whispers have taken a look at how the Baggies could take to the pitch when they open their campaign at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Have a look at how West Bromwich Albion will line up next season


GK – Ben Foster

Ben Foster has rebuilt his reputation at West Brom
Getty Images – Getty

Foster joined West Brom from West Midlands rivals Birmingham City in the summer of 2011, having rebuilt his reputation after struggling to make the grade at Manchester United.

In his time at the Hawthorns, the 34-year-old has established himself as one of the most consistent and reliable goalkeepers in the Premier League and was a near ever-present for the Baggies in the top flight last term, missing just one match.

RB – Craig Dawson

Craig Dawson is one of Tony Pulis' most trusted players
PA:Press Association

Comfortable in the centre of defence or as a right-back, Dawson, a signing from Rochdale back in 2010, is another of Pulis’ trusted and consistent performers.

Far from spectacular, the 27-year-old won’t pull up any trees, but he is diligent, hard working and the manager knows exactly what he is getting from the 6ft 2ins defender.

CB – Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans is the leader of West Brom's rearguard
PA:Press Association

Having arrived from Manchester United in 2015, Evans had a point to prove when he joined West Brom. Deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford by Louis van Gaal, the Northern Irish centre-back was determined to prove the club he had been a part of for more than a decade were wrong to let him go.

And he has done just that. The stalwart and leader of the Baggies backline, Evans’ performances have so impressed that he was even said to be an Arsenal transfer target a year ago.

CB – Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley is the senior member of West Brom's squad
Reuters

The veteran of the West Brom defence, 37-year-old McAuley continues to defy the ageing process by putting in solid performances on a weekly basis in the Premier League.

The 6ft 5ins powerhouse may not be the quickest, but he is dominant in the air and reads the game well. The partnership McAuley enjoys with Northern Ireland team-mate Evans is among the most resolute in the Premier League.

LB – Allan Nyom

Allan Nyom brings an athletic dimension to West Brom's backline
Getty Images – Getty

Cameroon international Nyom was picked up by Pulis from Watford last summer and quickly established himself as the Baggies’ first-choice option on the left side of defence.

The France-born former Granada defender, standing at 6ft 2ins, fits the profile of a Pulis defender and offers a degree of athleticism that his defensive colleagues are unable to match.

RM – Matt Phillips

West Brom winger Matt Phillips likes to go past rivals
Reuters

Phillips was brought in from Queens Park Rangers this time last year having impressed in the Championship for the Loftus Road side.

Creative and dynamic, the Scotland international scored four times for West Brom last term and registered a team-high eight assists, providing flair and excitement down the flanks within a side more renowned for defensive stubbornness.

CM – Jake Livermore

Jake Livermore has earned an England call-up since moving to West Brom
Getty Images – Getty

A January signing from since-relegated Hull City, Livermore was a very astute pick up for West Brom. The England international is experienced at Premier League level, responsible in his defensive duties and an underrated passer.

Livermore anchors midfield alongside Claudio Yacob; Pulis has the option of fielding just one of the pair and unleashing James Morrison if he wishes to take a more adventurous approach at any point.

CM – Claudio Yacob

Claudio Yacob (right) has become one of Pulis' most trusted lieutenants
Getty Images – Getty

Argentinian Yacob was hailed as one of the signings of the season during his first campaign at the Hawthorns in 2012/13, having been signed from Racing Club in his homeland at minimal cost.

Now 30, the defensive midfielder, who has three senior international caps for the two-time World Cup winners, is another of Pulis’ dependable lieutenants, always responsible in his positioning and cautious in his use of the ball.

LM – Nacer Chadli

A club-record £13million signing from Tottenham Hotspur last summer, the tricky and versatile winger is the Baggies’ go-to creative outlet, returning five goals and five assists in the Premier League last season.

If West Brom have any hope of improving upon their 10th-place finish from last term, the Belgian international’s form and fitness will be crucial.

ST – Jay Rodriguez

After a torrid period on the sidelines due to knee injuries over the last few years, Rodriguez returned to fitness to play 24 times in the league for Southampton last season, working his way back towards the peak form, which saw him net 13 Premier League goals in the 2013/14 campaign.

West Brom had tracked the 28-year-old for more than a year before finally landing him in a £12million deal this summer. The one-cap England international has the tools to form a deadly strike partnership with powerful target man Salomon Rondon.

ST – Salomon Rondon

Venezuelan striker Rondon scored just eight goals in all competitions last season but the 6ft 1ins 27-year-old will be aided by the support of Rodriguez in 2017/18, benefitting from the space the busy former Southampton forward will open up for him.

Strong in the air and a powerhouse in the penalty area, though far from prolific, no opposing defender relishes coming up against Rondon. He must now use his physical gifts to help him get a healthier goals return.

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