West Bromwich Albion's key creative influence, Jason Koumas, insists that this team are not far away from putting together the sort of run that will have the Baggies challenging for automatic promotion again.

Since starting off with a comfortable win in the Black Country in his first game in charge in October, manager Tony Mowbray has suffered an indifferent run of results, having seen his side win just twice in nine games.

But the unpredictable Baggies ended an run of four consecutive away defeats with Sunday's 1-1 draw at Barnsley and, sustained by their continued home form, Koumas was at least able to return from the sub-zero climate of South Yorkshire with some feelings of warmth about how the winter months ahead might go.

"We'd have lost this game a couple of weeks ago, so that's the main positive to take," he said. "Following on from the win over Derby County, we've now got four points out of the last two games and with Coventry City coming up at home next week, if we can get another three points there, maybe we can get ourselves off on a run.

"We're trying to get it right and I'm confident we will, especially when you think there's such a long way to go yet and just how tight it is up there still."

Saturday's home date with Coventry marks the halfway point of the Championship season and, with Albion only three points off a play-off place, there is hardly cause to panic yet — in what has so far proved one the tightest promotion races at this level in living memory.

Albion's main rivals, Birmingham City, have only just hit the top again themselves after two false dawns, Preston North End lasted just one game as leaders and Koumas's former club, Cardiff City, are now slipping down the table after setting the pace for a couple of months.

Only 11 points separate the top 14 clubs but, now he has established himself back in the ranks at The Hawthorns after such a traumatic summer, Koumas still has faith that Albion can get right back into contention — especially if Mowbray's men can improve their performances on the road.

Admittedly, three of Albion's next four games are at home, which is a very positive sign, but their next three away trips — at faltering Plymouth Argyle, bottom club Southend United and FA Cup third-round opponents Leeds United — all look winnabl.

"We know what we need to do to get us right up there," said Koumas. "We need to win away games and we need to be winning games like that at places like Barnsley.

"We had the chances and we got a bit better in the second half, but it's just not happening for us.

"We've got to go on a run some time. All the teams above us have strung a few wins together and, when the same thing happens for us, the confidence it will bring almost goes without saying."

At least Koumas's own confidence is high after hitting a sweet strike for Albion's goal at Oakwell, a stunning left-foot volley on the run that earned him a third goal in five games.

"It's nice to really get the season off and running on that front," he said. "I just hope there's a few more goals to come in the coming weeks."

He might have triggered a late winner when he was levelled right on the edge of the Barnsley box, only for the pleas for a penalty to go unanswered.

"It was close, let's put it that way," added Koumas, who was just as disappointed not to score with the resulting free-kick. Of equal concern was the yellow card he lucklessly received to leave him just one away from a suspension.

"Things like that just happen," he said. "Their player just clipped me and it wasn't a booking, but I've got to be careful on that front. I'm on four bookings."

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