Since this is my first blog of 2012, I'd like to wish everyone a (belated) happy new year, though 2012 didn't really get off to the greatest start for the Baggies, who lost to out to Everton at home with a poor performance and also lost away at Spurs, with a far more spirited performance despite the result being the same as Everton, 1-0 to the opposition.
What was notable in the Spurs game was the side Albion were forced to put out. For the game, they were missing the following; Jonas Olsson, Steven Reid, Chris Brunt, Youssuff Mulumbu, Shane Long. All of these have been pretty much permanent fixtures in the starting XI throughout the season, whilst James Morrison was on the bench carrying an injury and Jerome Thomas was then forced off midway through the first half with a groin injury.
These injuries are really starting to take a toll on Albion's campaign, and has raised questions over the back-up options they have, particularly following Roy Hodgson's comments at the end of the Everton game.
Asked after the game why he did not utilise any of his substitutes, he said that he didn't feel that the subs he had would be able to change the game. Firstly the question has to be asked, was this a genuine feeling or was it a subtle hint to chairman Jeremy Peace about giving Hodgson some money to spend in January. If it was the 2nd, it has clearly worked as Peace has told the head coach that money is available for him to spend.
But what is worrying is that Hodgson probably did feel that those subs were not good enough. He must take some of the blame for this, he said that he was happy with the squad despite there being the possibility to add to his squad if he wanted to. He said that the club had captured the three players he wanted; Ben Foster, Zoltan Gera and Shane Long. However, it is probably a feeling that was shared in some quarters by Albion fans.
There was definitely players on that bench who could have changed the game, if they were in-form. The problem is that these players aren't in form, and in some cases haven't been in form for a long while. Graham Dorrans is a prime example of this. Players who Hodgson had favoured earlier in his tenture such as Simon Cox and Somen Tchoyi weren't given the chance to change things despite both Long and Odemwingie having poor games.
And to add to the injury woes of Albion, Paul Scharner missed out on the Cardiff game whilst Gareth McAuley picked up a calf strain. That could potentially leave both of Albion's first choice centre halfs injured, not what you want when your next game sees the pairing of Grant Holt and Steve Morison coming to the Hawthorns, both men who will compete for everything in the air.
Next week's game is huge for Albion, and Hodgson must be hoping that these injures clear up somewhat before then.
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