Derby County boss Wayne Rooney has predicted tonight’s clash against West Bromwich Albion will be “a very physical game with balls coming into our box” and praised the league leaders for their strong start to the season.
West Brom are one point clear of Fulham and Stoke City at the top of the Championship with 14 points from six games after their 1-1 draw with Millwall on the weekend.
Valerien Ismael remains unbeaten in the league since taking charge at the Hawthorns in the summer and has successfully got his side playing the unique direct and high-tempo style of play that helped him take Barnsley to the play-offs last season.
They welcome Derby to the Hawthorns this evening and, speaking to Birmingham Live ahead of the game, Rooney has claimed he knows what to expect from the Baggies.
He said: “The extra day of preparation will help, but not by much. West Brom have started the season really well, we know what to expect.
“It’ll be a very physical game with balls coming into our box, so we have to defend well and be ready for that challenge.
“We’ll have to then create our own chances.
“They are a difficult team to play against. As you can see, they play exactly the same way Barnsley played last season, but with better quality players, so we know tomorrow will be a very difficult game, and we have to be ready.”
The Rams were beaten 2-0 by Birmingham City on Friday evening meaning they have taken six points from six games – an impressive record given the financial issues that obstructed Rooney’s preparations for the season and left him with a threadbare squad.
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Teams know what to expect from West Brom this season but finding a way to combat Ismael’s side is another thing entirely.
Rooney appears under no false pretences about the defensive work that will be necessary from his side if they’re to get a result at the Hawthorns this evening and appears to be an admirer of the Baggies.
Despite their solid start to the season, a draw against the league leaders would be a surprise result while a win would be a major upset.
Such a result could prove massive for the Rams squad, helping them climb up the table and boosting their confidence.
They’re going to have to work very hard and take their chances if they’re going to do that.