West Bromwich Albion have disclosed a nine-month injury to their key player in training ahead of their match against Watford.

Watford vs. West Bromwich Albion, Vicarage Road, Wednesday, September 20, 2023, 7.45 p.m.
Albion have had a string of injuries in the striking department in recent months. With Daryl Dike already out until the New Year after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in April, it was confirmed on Tuesday morning that new signing Josh Maja will be out for eight weeks after suffering an ankle injury at Ashton Gate on Saturday in a challenge that arguably should have resulted in a penalty for the Baggies.

It leaves Carlos Corberán with just one senior striker available in Brandon Thomas-Asante with Maja expected to be out until after the November international break. With a glut of midweek fixtures in the coming weeks, it means that the former Sunderland man is likely to miss the next ten matches even though there are two international breaks in that period. It seems likely that Corberán will need to look at other non-ideal options to bring off the bench to avoid putting too much pressure on the former Salford City striker, with Matt Phillips having already started one game up front when BTA himself was unavailable.

Obviously, Phillips himself is proving to be a pivotal member of the team already so other alternatives will need to be explored. Jeremy Sarmiento is likely to get his chance to start sooner as a result, while the youth options are somewhat reduced after Jovan Malcolm, Rayhaan Tulloch and Mo Faal were all sent out on loan. Expect to see a few different makeshift strikers in the coming weeks

Daryl Dike: West Brom's injury-ravaged USA striker had 'Am I ever going to  be same again?' doubts - BBC Sport

After earning a point and a first clean sheet of the campaign at Nigel Pearson’s Bristol City at the weekend, Albion face another familiar face in the dug out on Wednesday evening as they travel to the home of Valérien Ismaël’s Watford. Another ex-Baggies boss, Slaven Bilić, was in the dug out on Albion’s last visit in February, while Chris Wilder has come and gone from Vicarage Road in the meantime with Ismaël appointed in the summer.

The Frenchman hasn’t enjoyed the spectacular start to his Watford career that he had at the Hawthorns – Albion were top of the table after the first six games of his tenure two seasons ago with four wins and two draws but the Hornets have won two and drawn two of the first six league games so far, and exited the Carabao Cup on penalties to League One Stevenage. Both of their victories have come at home, 4-0 over QPR on the opening weekend and 2-0 over Birmingham City last Saturday. Reports in The Athletic suggest that the Frenchman is already in talks about an extension to his three year contract, but that seems highly unlikely given the Pozzo family’s record with their head coaches – Ismaël is their 11th head coach since the start of the 2019/20 season!

The win over Blues at the weekend was particularly impressive given it was a first defeat of the season for John Eustace’s side, so perhaps the team are starting to click under the Frenchman’s unique approach, but Albion fans will inevitably sceptical about the longer term prospects for an Ismaël team given their own experiences. Having been relegated in 2022, Watford retain a decent squad albeit they lost a few of their stars over the summer including João Pedro and Ismaïla Sarr, which will inevitably have affected their potency. The arrival of Danish striker, Mileta Rajović, from Swedish side Kalmar had partially addressed that issue in that he already has three goals to his name this season. Tom Ince was another high profile signing while former Albion skipper, Jake Livermore, also joined on a free transfer but has started just one game so far this season, the 1-0 defeat at Stoke City last month.

In this first three-game week of the season, Corberán may be looking to make use of his squad a bit more but the loss of Maja will be a big blow to those plans. However, he has one or two options behind and wide of the central striker – Sarmiento has been knocking on the door for a start and Diangana is fit once again while Tom Fellows is also an option that hasn’t been used so far this season in the Championship. Furthermore, Alex Mowatt might be an alternative in the number ten role, should the formation demand one although he is more likely to slot in central midfield, of course, where Okay and Molumby have been the preferred pairing. Corberán has normally used Chalobah as his first substitute in the centre of the park, usually for Okay who is yet to complete 90 minutes yet this season. Along the back line, Bartley, Townsend and new signing Pipa will all be hopeful of game time but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least the central three remain unchanged.

Albion should take encouragement from the second half performance at Ashton Gate and a first shutout of the season, but the injury to Maja is obviously a blow. This will be another tricky away game and, with Watford perhaps finding their feet under Ismaël, a point would not be a bad result ahead of Saturday’s home game.

Albion travel to Vicarage Road on Wednesday evening looking for their first win at Watford for more than 15 years. Tony Mowbray was in charge of the last Baggies team to get the better of the Hornets on their own patch, doing so convincingly with a 3-0 victory despite Adie Boothroyd’s team being top of the table in October 2007 and having picked up 16 of a possible 18 points at home so far that season.

Since then, Albion have drawn two of the five visits to Watford since then, losing on their most recent three visits including an exciting match in February this year when Corberán’s team came from behind twice before losing 3-2 to a side managed by former Baggies boss, Slaven Bilić.

With Watford having spent their first sixty years of league football outside of the top flight, Albion didn’t make their first appearance at Vicarage Road until September 1982 after the late great Graham Taylor, had taken the club, owned by Elton John, from the fourth division to the top flight in just five seasons. The hosts took the points as Luther Blissett, who would score for the Baggies in a loan spell a decade later, grabbed a brace either side of a goal from Les Taylor secure a 3-0 victory.

Two seasons later, the Baggies would secure their first win in that particular corner of Hertfordshire thanks to goals from Garry Thompson and Gary Owen during John Giles’ second spell as Albion boss in May 1985 – the two sides would both finish on 55 points at the end of the season in the middle of the table with the Hornets edging the top-half finish on goal difference.

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