Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Hodgson: Baggies will play hardball

Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson is confident he will be backed by West Brom owner-chairman Jeremy Peace in the battle to hold onto key players this summer.

Head coach Hodgson believes his own past experiences of trying to prise targets away from the Hawthorns gives him confidence Peace will lend him his support. Leading scorer Peter Odemwingie, skipper Chris Brunt and midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu have been the subject of transfer speculation.

But when asked if he needed assurances from Peace about keeping players, Hodgson said: "I don't need assurances. I don't need them. They're under contract."

He added: "I know from past experience of trying to get Jonathan Greening out of West Brom that the chairman is very keen on keeping the players that he wants to keep and who are under contract.

"I don't need assurances. I've never even broached the subject with him. The battle for Greening made me realise that West Brom don't release players they don't want to let go."

Hodgson has his sights firmly set on finishing as the midlands' leading club after Mulumbu's goal earned a 1-0 home win over Everton. They are one point ahead of Aston Villa with one game remaining - at Newcastle on Sunday.

Hodgson said: "It's been a pretty good spell, 19 points from 11 games. An average of two points per game is like Manchester United, isn't it, right up the top. Just under two points a game is like Liverpool, who are on a very good run, or perhaps Chelsea.

"I've got to say it has been a wonderful season and we've got a very good chance now of finishing as top dogs in the Birmingham area. I think it's a while since that happened and it is an achievement because Birmingham (City) and Aston Villa are big clubs."

Meanwhile, Mulumbu has been voted Albion's player of the year. The midfielder has formed an impressive partnership alongside Paul Scharner in the centre of the park and has weighed in with seven goals. But the former Paris St Germain player knows Albion will face an even harder battle to stay up next season.

He said: "It will be a hard season, maybe even harder than this season. But this season was hard and the target was achieved."

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