A glance at the league table may not tell the whole story for West Bromwich Albion fans.
While their side again hit bottom after Tottenham Hotspur’s draw with Portsmouth on Sunday, closer inspection reveals things are far from bleak for Tony Mowbray’s side.
Three consecutive home wins have dragged Albion within a win of mid-table and Mowbray’s side have put in a Herculean effort in recent weeks. However, it has come at a cost.
The manager was yesterday taking stock of a growing injury crisis. Eight of his squad are out of action after two more joined the queue outside the treatment room after the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.
Defender Leon Barnett limped off with a tight hamstring and striker Luke Moore picked up a similar injury after coming on as a substitute.
Albion were already without long-term absentees Neil Clement and Ishmael Miller, and midfielder James Morrison is recovering from a hamstring strain.
Defenders Gianni Zuiverloon (knee), Jonas Olsson (knee) and Abdoulaye Meite (hamstring) are also undergoing treatment, which leaves Mowbray with just two fit centre-backs in Ryan Donk and Pele, although Zuiverloon returned to training today and Meite could be back in training by the end of the week.
“They are all very similar injuries and I think it is a combination of the intensity we are asking them to play at the moment and the different surfaces they have had to train on because of the weather,” Mowbray said. “Hopefully, they are not normal hamstring injuries and will only take a couple of weeks. With Barnett and Moore, it isn’t a tear, more of a tightness.
“But I am pretty sure that Meite and Olsson will be back available within a fortnight and we just have to get through this period until we do start getting everyone back.
“I don’t think we will be looking to bring in a centre-half on loan to cover because, hopefully, we will get people back soon.
“Hopefully, the injured players’ transition back to full training will be smooth and there are no set-backs.
“It’s not ideal at the moment, especially when we’ve got Clem out long term as well.
“Having Clement, Meite, Barnett, Olsson and Zuiverloon all unavailable really does stretch things.”
Mowbray revealed Olsson’s injury was tendonitis of the patella tendon in his knee but the injury only needed rest.
“Jonas could play on it and the adrenaline get him through,” the Baggies chief added.
“It’s not like a ligament is going to go or a piece of cartilage flake away. It’s just dealing with the pain and keeping concentration levels up because of the irritation.
“The problem is training in between games because you need time for it to settle down. The plan is to leave him until it settles right down again.
“I’ll talk to him during the week and hopefully it will take him just a week to ten days to recover.
“Obviously, I have to consider our midweek game against Manchester United next week and Saturday’s cup tie as well.”
Despite being down the pecking order in terms of a starting place, Donk and Pele were thrust together at the heart of the Baggies back four and emerged with great credit after keeping a clean sheet.
“In every game, you’ve got to ride your luck a little bit and I think in the first half we did on Saturday,” said the Albion boss. “But still, a clean-sheet is a clean-sheet.
“You’ve got to work very, very hard for them in the Premier League because the opposition have quality players.
“I’m delighted for everyone we managed to win.”