Mowbray goes in search of 'gems' to aid Albion

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The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray is aiming to unearth "some little gems" to add to the squad which has taken the club to the verge of promotion to the Premier League.

The Baggies are virtually assured of a place in the top flight after a two-year absence as a result of the 1-1 home draw with relegation-threatened Southampton at The Hawthorns.

Albion have moved ahead of previous leaders Stoke on goal difference with just one game remaining of their Championship campaign.

And Mowbray's side would have to lose at QPR while Hull, the only side who can deny them promotion, would have to win at Ipswich and overturn a 12-goal deficit.

But Mowbray is already eager to start working with chairman Jeremy Peace in trying to ensure West Brom can remain in the Premier League. He said: "I speak to the chairman most days. It certainly makes my job easier when he is very professional about the way he wants the club running. I am happy to take my footballing philosophies and marry them to his money management. Whatever people say about the chairman, he runs the club extremely well and hopefully we can marry the two together and be successful.

"It is not easy to get players. You look at players in this country and they cost too much money. You look at players abroad and you take a chance because you don't know the personality. There are a million agents with 10 million players who all think they are good enough to play in your team. My job is to siphon through them all and try and come up with some little gems that can enhance what we have already got here to help to make our team competitive."

Mowbray revealed his pride at helping Albion regain their place among the elite, barring some freak results at the weekend.

He said: "I left a very good job in Scotland with Hibernian to try and achieve the aim of taking Albion back to the Premier League. Standing here now, it feels pretty good that we have achieved that. I am delighted for everyone at the club. It is a warm feeling inside.

"It feels good and when I tell my three-year-old that his daddy is in the Premier League, I am sure he won't know what I am talking about but in years to come hopefully he will understand that. I am here to try and be successful, to help the club achieve things, to help the fans to be proud about the team."

The club's captain Jonathan Greening believes it is vital for West Brom that their striker Kevin Phillips signs a new contract. Phillips has played a major part in helping Albion make virtually sure of returning to the Premier League. But Greening believes that Phillips could prove as important for West Brom as Teddy Sheringham was for West Ham United in 2004-05.

The former Manchester United midfielder said: "Kevin is one of those players like Teddy who drops in and holds the ball up well for us and you need that in the top division and I am sure the gaffer will be desperate to keep him.

"He has scored so many goals for us this year – but it is not just that which is important. It is his aura. He is one of the jokers, one of the lads who brings the team together.

"Kevin is still as fit as a fiddle, has no fat on him whatsoever, still at the top of the running so the age [34] is not a concern.

"Hopefully the chairman will sit down with him and sort out a new deal and Kevin can have a good summer and prepare for next year."

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