West Bromwich Albion defender Kyle Bartley has admitted the international break has been a real source of frustration for him and his teammates who wanted to quickly atone for their defeat against Stoke City before the interval, speaking to the club’s media team.
The Baggies’ 1-0 loss at the bet365 Stadium earlier this month was their first league defeat in what has been a successful 2021/22 Championship campaign so far, thriving under a new manager and sitting second in the table going into tomorrow night’s home fixture against Birmingham City.
With Valerien Ismael’s side playing before AFC Bournemouth this weekend, they have the chance to temporarily go top of the second-tier table on goal difference, a huge boost for a side that suffered a real blow against the Potters in their previous match.
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They come up against the Blues under Lee Bowyer who have won just one point from a possible 15 in their last five league games and will be desperate to make amends with a surprise victory at The Hawthorns against a local rival.
There will be no shortage of motivation for tomorrow’s away side then, but neither will there be from the Baggies who have been able to rest and recover after a busy period of games last month, something manager Ismael said was much-needed.
But vice-captain Kyle Bartley has admitted his frustration at the fact they haven’t been able to redeem themselves quickly for their poor performance in Staffordshire, saying: “I think we can be really proud of the start we have had this season.
“We were beaten in our last game and that was a really disappointing result.
“It’s felt like such a long two weeks because all the lads just wanted to get out there and put it right.
“We’ve had some time off and we’ve had some time to work with the manager out on the grass.
“Everyone in the building is really looking forward to playing Birmingham on Friday night.
“Blues at home. Friday night. Under the lights. It’s the perfect game to come back to.
“Hopefully we can put in a really positive performance, get the crowd right behind us and pick up another important three points at The Hawthorns.”
A defeat against Birmingham City tomorrow night would be the sort of result that could derail a season, not just because the duo are local rivals and this would have a major psychological effect, but also because the Blues have scored just once in their last five games.
The record is likely to change at some point with the likes of Troy Deeney, Scott Hogan and Tahith Chong at their disposal, but a defeat would be a heavy blow nonetheless and it’s something they need to avoid on their quest to secure automatic promotion. A win on Friday evening would only help to put pressure on their promotion rivals, so three points in this one will be crucial.
You can see where Kyle Bartley is coming from though in terms of his frustration. In all honesty, they may not have had enough in the tank to secure all three points against Lee Bowyer’s men with the intense style of play and injury to Alex Mowatt, but having to think about his defeat for a fortnight must have been torturous.
Many people would hope they would be able to take their mind off it as they face a huge local derby, but it’s only natural that they will still be reeling from the result against the Potters considering their unbeaten record before that.
Bouncing back from a defeat will arguably be their biggest challenge of the season yet despite facing the likes of Sheffield United and AFC Bournemouth, so we could be in for a fascinating tie in the West Midlands tomorrow.