Phil Brown, the Hull City manager, may tinker with his in-form side as he prepares for one of the biggest weeks in the club's history. The high-flying Tigers are third in the Premier League after overcoming Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham with an unchanged team in their last three games.
Yet Brown expects to have to modify his approach to meet the challenge of West Bromwich Albion tomorrow and, with giants Chelsea and Manchester United to come next week, changes might be considered. Brown said: "It is difficult to look and pick fault with the players who played in those games. But I think we are coming up against a different kind of mentality and team in West Brom than in the previous three. There is room for change in my head but I haven't made those decisions yet."
Brown has close to a fully-fit squad available for the trip to The Hawthorns with broken leg victim Craig Fagan the only player sidelined.
Nick Barmby and Stelios Giannakopoulos are close to fitness but will probably be given another week, as will record signing Anthony Gardner, even though he will definitely travel.
"The body count is frightening," said Brown. "The toughest part of my job is that we had 28 players on the training ground today." Yet despite the positive squad news and the team's superb run of form, Brown refuses to accept that Hull are the favourites going into this weekend's game. Victory would put Hull joint top with Chelsea and Liverpool – who face each other on Sunday – but Brown expects West Bromwich, promoted above Hull last season, to be a tough prospect away from home.
He said: "They came up on this wonderful ride last season when, for me, they were undoubtedly the best team in the division, by a long way. They have started this season very well, playing some good attractive football that has got its just rewards in certain games. West Brom are the favourites, being at The Hawthorns."
Brown also insists the game is his sole focus, despite two huge "big four" games just days away. "I am not going beyond Saturday," he said. "It is a big three points. The fixture list is there but it is not for me to look."
West Bromwich's Tony Mowbray insists his side will not suffer a hangover from their 4-0 defeat at Manchester United last Saturday. "To be honest I think there were only positives to come out of that game," Mowbray said. "Yes, we were disappointed to lose 4-0 but the players realised how well they did for long spells of the match.
"I think they took a lot of confidence from, first and foremost, knowing you could frustrate United with our ability to keep the ball off them at times and to defend as well as we did. The disappointment would be that we have got to improve on getting into areas to attack the best teams."Reuse content