–Set to force way to season’s opener
ALAN Irvine says today’s Hawthorns friendly against Porto (ko 4pm) will be his players’ last chance to force their way into his first Barclays Premier League starting line-up – as he prepares to welcome Brown Ideye into the fold.
Club-record signing Ideye wass set to fly into the UK yesterday (Friday) following the completion of his work permit application process.
The Nigeria international striker won’t be involved against 2004 Champions League winners Porto but will train with his new team-mates for the first time next week.
Albion’s final pre-season friendly will come too soon for new boy Jason Davidson, who is building up his fitness after signing on Tuesday, plus Gareth McAuley (calf), Joleon Lescott and James Morrison (both knee).
However, Irvine has added fit-again left-back Sebastien Pocognoli and forward Stephane Sessegnon, back from international duty with Benin, to his squad.
The Baggies’ other new signing this week, Cristian Gamboa, will be absent as he awaits his visa to be processed.
Irvine is expecting a thorough examination against Porto, claiming the match will be perfect preparation for when his side face the Premier League’s leading lights this term.
The Portuguese giants, who finished third in their domestic top flight last term, will step up their planning for their forthcoming Champions League qualifying play-off.
Irvine, meanwhile, will be focussing on fine-tuning his team for Saturday week’s league opener at home to Sunderland.
“This is our last game before the season starts so it’s the last opportunity for the players to stake a claim for a place in the team,” said the head coach, as he prepares to take charge of his first game at The Hawthorns.
“We know that Porto are a very, very good team. They dominated possession in their recent matches against Genk and Everton – games we’ve seen.