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Baggies can cope without Gayle – Shan

The on-loan Newcastle striker must serve a two-match ban.

Dwight Gayle will play no further part in West Brom’s play-off campaign (Martin Rickett/PA)
Dwight Gayle will play no further part in West Brom’s play-off campaign (Martin Rickett/PA)

Boss James Shan believes West Brom’s squad is strong enough to cope with the loss of top scorer Dwight Gayle.

Albion must continue their Sky Bet Championship promotion challenge without the striker after he was sent off at Villa Park on Saturday.

Gayle, on loan from Newcastle, scored his 24th goal of the season but was then shown a second yellow card late on.

His suspension sees him miss the second leg of the semi-final against Aston Villa and will also rule him out of the final at Wembley, should West Brom get there.

With Hal Robson-Kanu also suspended following his red card at Derby on the final day of the regular season, Jay Rodriguez will likely play as a lone striker on Tuesday night in a 4-5-1 formation.

“He (Gayle) is a massive player for us but Jay has been very productive and hasn’t played an awful lot of minutes this season in central areas,” said Shan after his side’s 2-1 defeat at the weekend.

“So it gives Jay the opportunity to get a more central role and he can be a big threat from there. It also presents opportunities for other people.

“We’ve got a big squad and a squad of high quality and the players play with a mentality that they’re waiting for their opportunity. So the opportunity will be presented for one individual.”

That might mean a recall for attacking midfielder Rekeem Harper, who was left out of the squad altogether for the first leg for tactical reasons. The 19-year-old had started five of West Brom’s last six games of the regular season.

Shan said: “We came with a game plan to sit a bit deeper and be a bit more compact and maybe have more of a defensive head on.

“Can Rekeem do that? Of course. Rek is a powerful young boy, very good in the half-turn and he can play forward. He is probably more of an offensive midfield player than one that will sit in and screen and deny.”

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