It would appear to be this week's worst kept secret in football that Tony Mowbray was to become West Bromwich Albion's manager.

Mowbray reportedly left Hibernian on Thursday, having first visited  Easter Road to say his fond farewells, leaving his No 2 Mark Venus in charge for Sunday's Edinburgh derby with Hearts.

Personal terms are understood to have been agreed, along with the compensation figure the Scottish side can expect to receive - reputed to be about #150,000.

Even allowing for the fact that they appear to do more idotting and t-crossing at Albion than at most clubs before committing themselves to anything, this managerial transfer saga has taken longer than most to be sorted.

The baffling aspect of it all is why it should only just be about to happen now, at the end of a fortnight's international break and at a time when Albion are poised to enter arguably their most stressful eight days of the season.

Mowbray will arrive on Wednesday, thus avoiding the journey to play his old club Ipswich Town and Tuesday night's always daunting trip to Crystal Palace, the scene, almost two years ago, of the end of the road for Gary Megson, the last manager before Bryan Robson to suffer from not having a close relationship with his chairman.

A few days later, Albion take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Black Country derby.

For the moment, caretaker manager Nigel Pearson is preparing to defend his unbeaten managerial sequence of three games to date in the comforting knowledge that he has five fit-again players to choose from at Portman Road - including captain Curtis Davies.

With Paul McShane serving a one-match ban for his red card in the 4-2 win over Leeds 13 days ago, Davies returns a month ahead of schedule from the broken foot injury which has kept him out for only six weeks.

"The timing of Curtis being back is perfect in terms of having 'Macca' suspended," Pearson said.

"Curtis has been outstanding since he's been at the club. And, although it's not always easy to play your first game when you've come back from injury, he's a fit lad."

Nigel Quashie is back in full training for the first time since injuring his ankle in the 2-2 draw at Luton Town almost three weeks ago. Ronnie Wallwork (calf), John Hartson (ankle) and Steve Watson (thigh) are available for selection after missing the win over Leeds United before the international break. But Russell Hoult is a doubt after suffering a dead leg in Tuesday's 2-0 reserves defeat by Birmingham City.

"Nigel trained today," said Pearson, at the only press conference Albion staged yesterday. "He looks OK, so he's available."

As to whether he will play, given the fluidity and creativity of the Albion midfield against Leeds, that is another matter. Although Jason Koumas (a scorer for Wales in midweek) was also among the scorers in a 3-2 win in Albion's previous match at Ipswich three years ago, it is unlikely that four ball players - himself, Zoltan Gera, Jonathan Greening and Darren Carter - will once again man the same engine room.