Mowbray tries to cool hopes after Albion's fiery start

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The Independent Football

Tony Mowbray is urging his West Bromwich Albion team not to get carried away ahead of tonight's visit of Stoke City despite seeing his side climb into second place in the Championship.

The Baggies moved into the automatic promotion spot behind Watford following Sunday's 5-1 crushing of Queen's Park Rangers who subsequently sacked their manager John Gregory. Sunday's victory saw the Baggies extend their unbeaten run to five games but with just six points separating 14 teams, Mowbray insists they must keep their focus rather than take anything for granted.

Mowbray said: "It's still early and I'm not getting carried away because you're only ever a couple of bad results away from a crisis. There are not many points between us in second and the bottom half of the table. After this game we have two very tough away games [at Southampton and Colchester]."

Zoltan Gera and Kevin Phillips are expected to shake off knocks in time to play tonight. The Hungary international Gera suffered a knee injury on Sunday but has since trained, while striker Phillips missed training after taking a kick on his leg on Sunday, but is expected to be fit.

The Stoke midfielder John Eustace will be handed a rare start for Tony Pulis' side. Eustace will start in central midfield alongside captain Dominic Matteo in place of Rory Delap, who is missing because of a groin injury.

Andy Wilkinson should be fit to continue at left-back, defender Clint Hill faces a further five weeks on the sidelines with a broken rib, but striker Mamady Sidibe will return to the squad after a shin injury.

In the night's other match, Colchester entertain managerless QPR at Layer Road. While both sides are at the wrong end of the table, the visitors are bottom with three points.

Mick Harford insists he has taken over at QPR with the blessing of his predecessor. Since Gregory's dismissal, his No 2 Harford has been put in temporary charge. "John told me to go for it and to look after the club," Harford said. "It's a shame John has gone because he is a good man and a good manager, who put a good infrastructure in place."

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