Friday 19 January 2018

Di Matteo still in striker hunt

Roberto Di Matteo will turn his attentions to West Brom's other striking targets after missing out on John Carew.

The Aston Villa frontman visited the Baggies and Stoke yesterday after both clubs had bids accepted but chose to join the Potters, who today announced the completion of a loan deal until the end of the season.

West Brom boss Di Matteo is still looking to add a striker to his ranks before the end of the January transfer window, with Carew's decision meaning a loan move for Ishmael Miller to QPR is now on hold.

The Italian said of Carew: "He's a Stoke City player now. We've got 25 points without any help so we're just going to keep going. We've got some other options and targets that we're working on so we're going to concentrate on these other ones now.

"We're looking for somebody to give us more options, somebody who can give us a hand in retaining our Barclays Premier League status."

The pressure on the Baggies was eased somewhat by last weekend's 3-2 victory over Blackpool, which ended a run of six straight defeats and lifted them three points above the relegation zone.

And Di Matteo insisted there is no sense of panic about the club's efforts in the transfer market.

"The window closes at the end of the month but we can only do our best," he added. "That's what we've been doing. There's always a little bit of a hectic period towards the end of the window but I've always said I don't want to bring a player in for the sake of it.

"If we believe that he can improve the team and help us and give me different options, that makes sense, otherwise it doesn't make sense."

West Brom travel to Blackburn on Sunday less than a month after Rovers came away from The Hawthorns with all three points in the reverse fixture.

Set-pieces proved crucial that day, with Blackburn's second-half goals from Nikola Kalinic and Mame Biram Diouf both coming via that route, so Di Matteo is particularly pleased to be able to include key defender Jonas Olsson in his squad.

He said: "I would expect a similar game even though they are playing at home so they'll probably be a little bit more offensive.

"We're going to have some defenders back and that's going to make us stronger. We believe we can match them better on Sunday with the players we'll get back."

Olsson missed two and a half months with an Achilles injury and was then sent off only 15 minutes into his comeback match against Reading two weeks ago.

That meant he was suspended for the Blackpool clash but the Swede played 45 minutes in a specially-arranged behind-closed-doors friendly against Walsall this week and Di Matteo will throw him straight back into first-team action.

"We've missed him very much," said the Baggies boss. "If you look at the games he's played and the games he hasn't played, you can see there's a big difference.

"We need to be aware he's been out for three months and he won't regain his match fitness in one game, it's going to probably take him a few weeks, but he's an influential player for us and we're very pleased that he's back available."

Fellow defender Pablo Ibanez also played in that game after recovering from a hamstring injury and could be included on Sunday but Graham Dorrans twisted an ankle this week and is doubtful while Steven Reid (knee) is still out.

Meanwhile, there was a boost for the Baggies today with the news midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu has signed a new two-and-a-half-year deal, keeping him at the club until 2014.

It is the second time in seven months the 24-year-old has been offered a new contract, and Di Matteo said: "I'm delighted that Youssouf has signed his new contract, which is fully deserved. He's had a very good season so far and is a player who wants to learn."

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