Ideye in line for Baggies bow
Published 15/08/2014 | 17:36
West Brom's record signing Brown Ideye is in contention to make his competitive bow for the club in their Barclays Premier League opener against Sunderland on Saturday, but fellow summer recruit Joleon Lescott will miss out as he continues his recovery from a knee problem.
Along with Ideye, a host of other players signed over the summer - including Andre Wisdom, Chris Baird, Jason Davidson, Sebastien Pocognoli and former Black Cats man Craig Gardner - could be involved in what will be head coach Alan Irvine's first competitive fixture with Albion as well.
Gardner has told doubters not to judge new boss Irvine so quickly, hailing the Scot as the best coach he has worked with.
Irvine's appointment this summer as the midlands outfit's head coach drew a negative response from some Baggies fans.
It is the 56-year-old's maiden Barclays Premier League management role, and his first job as a number one since being sacked by Sheffield Wednesday in 2011 with the club mid-table in League One.
Gardner said: "The manager has come in and he's got us going and got us firing straight away, and we're going to take that into the season.
"I think before you judge him you need to watch his training sessions, you need to be in the changing room, you need to really know him; he's come here and been brilliant.
"I'm not just saying that because he's the manager and he picks the team, he truly has been brilliant.
"His training sessions are different class, he talks really, really well in the changing room. He knows what he's on about, he doesn't talk for the sake of it.
"He's a top-class coach and he's a top-class person.
"It's the same with Keith (Downing), Rob (Kelly) and Dean (Kiely) as well, they all know what they're on about.
"On the training pitch we get well-set drills and it's proper training sessions that relate to proper games. It's not just 'go out there and play football'."
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet is hoping his players return to action still feeing "unbeatable" after last season's great escape.
The Black Cats preserved their top-flight status with a remarkable late run which saw them avoid relegation despite for long periods looking like certainties for the drop.
Now Poyet, who has just completed his first pre-season with his squad, is hoping some of the momentum his team established remains as he looks for a much better start than predecessor Paolo Di Canio managed 12 months ago.
He said: "The good time we had stopped because the season finished.
"But we talk a lot about momentum and there are a few players, the players who have been there at the end of the season that finished playing with the feeling of being unbeatable, practically.
"I hope that we take it into this season because it is very, very important that we start well in the Premier League.
"If you do not, what happened to us last season can happen and, like I said in the beginning, I do not want to suffer again."
In a bid to avoid a repeat of last season's struggles, Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton have spent the summer rebuilding the squad, with Brighton winger Will Buckley becoming the seventh new recruit on Thursday.