West Bromwich Albion will have an embarrassment of riches in defence as they prepare for their match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tonight (8pm).

With their injury problems easing, Nigel Pearson set to bid farewell to the club after a spell as caretaker manager and Tony Mowbray just a day away from taking over as manager, this will be a pivotal time in Albion's season.

But of all the sub-plots to the main feature, the most interesting will be how Pearson will fit four defenders — Chris Perry, Curtis Davies, Paul McShane and Steve Watson — into just two places.

When Albion defeated Ipswich Town 5-1 at Portman Road last Saturday, it was Perry and Davies who occupied the central-defensive positions. But McShane, who was suspended, is eligible to play, as is Watson, who has returned from injury.

Pearson is sure to take a pragmatic view in this, his final match in charge. While Perry scored an own goal for Ipswich but played well overall, Davies showed no signs of the foot injury that saw him miss the previous seven weeks of action.

Davies sustained a broken foot during the match away to Sunderland on August 28 and his absence contributed to a downturn in Albion's fortunes. That downturn contributed to the departure of Bryan Robson on September 18.

However, McShane has performed well while Davies has been out and even gained promotion to the full Republic of Ireland team. McShane picked up various man-of-the-match awards for his performance as Ireland drew 1-1 at home to the Czech Republic last week.

McShane would certainly relish the chance to play against Crystal Palace, having scored against the South London club last season — while on loan with Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Scoring the winner there last season is a good memory and hopefully we can get a similar result," McShane said.

"Brighton hadn't beaten Crystal Palace for a long time and it was a good atmosphere to play in but Palace is a hard place to go.

"They are a good team, a big club and have a good squad of players. I'm sure I might get a bit of stick off their fans for scoring against them last season but it is part of football and it doesn't bother me."

In some ways, October has been a strange time for McShane. Sent off against Leeds United, a debut for Ireland, then a suspension against Ipswich . . . he might be wondering whether to laugh or cry.

"I was unfortunate to get sent off against Leeds but you have to take the ups with the downs in football," McShane said. "Football is a rollercoaster. It takes you through the highs and lows and you have to learn to take whatever comes your way.

"Making my Ireland debut was a high last week and it was a brilliant debut. I got the man-of-the-match award as well and I was very pleased for myself. It's just a shame we couldn't get the win.

"It was a good experience playing against someone of Jan Koller's calibre and, at international level, it's even more about concentrations levels.

"The fans were fantastic and it was a great game to be involved in. I knew I was playing when [Ireland manager] Steve Staunton put the first XI together for training. He asked me if I was ready after training and I said: 'Yes!' "

Darren Carter will miss the match at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday after picking up a yellow card, his fifth of the season, during the victory against Ipswich but he is eligible to play tonight.

The midfield player, who has started the past seven matches for Albion, is eligible for Palace as his one-match ban does not kick in until seven days after his last caution.

But Carter must be feeling a sense of injustice, for he was booked for striking the ball into the goal after Andy Woolmer, the referee, had blown for offside. Carter, however, did not know he was offside.

Ronnie Wallwork, the Albion midfield player, is also treading a disciplinary tightrope as he has four bookings to his name.