Albion legend Batson backs Appleton to shine at Hawthorns

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The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion legend Brendon Batson believes Michael Appleton might have landed in the Baggies hot seat at just the right time. The 35-year-old has worked his way up the coaching ranks at The Hawthorns after a knee injury forced him into premature retirement in 2003.

And on Sunday the first-team coach was placed in caretaker charge following the sacking of manager Roberto Di Matteo and assistants Eddie Newton and Ade Mafe.

This season has proved fruitful for caretaker managers in the Premier League, with Kenny Dalglish turning Liverpool's form around and Steve Kean landing a permanent job at Blackburn. Batson would not be surprised if Appleton was the next, and said: "He's done fantastically well to get to the position he has done. I know he's very well thought of at the club and an extremely good coach. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself in unexpected circumstances.

"I don't know what's in the mind of the board but look at what Kenny Dalglish has achieved at Liverpool."

Di Matteo's sacking came as a shock to most in the game and Batson, who played more than 150 games for West Bromwich between 1978 and 1982, thinks the Italian may have made a rod for his own back.

He said: "We all know it's a results business and results haven't been good. Probably one of the things against him was they started off so well this season and expectations rose. The club has been on a poor run but, as a manager, that's when you're looking for support from the board. The timing seems odd as well given the window has closed and there are some huge games coming up."

Appleton is expected to be in charge for Saturday's crunch meeting with bottom side West Ham, while West Bromwich also face matches against fellow strugglers Wolves and Birmingham over the next few weeks.

Chris Hughton, Roy Hodgson and Martin Jol have all been mentioned as potential candidates for the role if the board decide to look outside the club, while Batson talked up St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes, a former Baggies captain.

He added: "Derek had all the qualities to be a top manager in the making when he was a player at West Brom. There's lots of quality candidates out there so the board are spoilt for choice."

Appleton has revealed he will turn to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson for advice ahead of his managerial debut. The former midfielder began his career at Old Trafford and is keen to keen to learn from the Scot, as well as the likes of David Moyes and Gary Megson, who he also played under.

Appleton said: "I will be picking up the phone to a few old friends – people who used to be my managers, who I have learnt lots of things from. The one thing they all have is they are very good from a discipline point of view."

Appleton could have a fully-fit squad to pick from, with Graham Dorrans, Marek Cech, Chris Brunt and Boaz Myhill all expected to be available.