Belfast Telegraph

Irvine: I won't shirk West Brom job

West Brom boss Alan Irvine will not shirk the challenge as he searches for the winning formula.

Pressure is growing on Irvine, at a club not renowned for its patience, as the Baggies' poor run of results continued with a 3-1 loss to Manchester City on Boxing Day.

Albion have won just one of their last eight Barclays Premier League games and are only two points above the relegation zone ahead of a tricky trip to Stoke on Sunday.

But Irvine has reasons to be encouraged. His side built up a 2-0 win with some impressive attacking play against QPR last weekend - only to capitulate and lose - and individual errors hampered them against City.

Irvine said: "It will be a very tough game at Stoke - it is a hard place to go. They are a team who are capable of causing you a lot of problems.

"But we will do the work we normally do on them and hopefully that will get us a good result.

"They had a good result against Everton and will be feeling good about that, so it is a big challenge - but if we can eradicate the individual errors then we are good enough to cause them problems.

"All I can do is keep trying to do the job in the way I that I do it. I work extremely hard. I try to leave nothing to chance."

Irvine could certainly do little as goalkeeper Ben Foster spilled a deflected Jesus Navas cross to allow Fernando to give City an eighth-minute lead at The Hawthorns on Friday.

Five minutes later former City defender Joleon Lescott then felled David Silva for a penalty converted by Yaya Toure.

Silva put the result beyond doubt with a well-taken third after Lescott gave the ball away on 34 minutes, but West Brom showed spirit amid a second-half blizzard to create a number of chances.

They finally claimed a deserved consolation three minutes from time when England goalkeeper Joe Hart missed a corner in the snow storm and the ball ricocheted into the net.

The final touch came off the back of Brown Ideye's head, giving the Nigerian striker a fortuitous - but much-welcomed - first Premier League goal.

Irvine said: "I challenged them to be strong mentally, to have that toughness and that courage to take the ball and not crumble.

"It is easy to say that and challenge them but they have got to go out and do that and, to be fair, they did."

Midfielder Graham Dorrans could return for Albion at Stoke after illness and a calf strain but striker Victor Anichebe remains on the sidelines.

Captain Chris Brunt could come back into the starting line-up after making his comeback from a hamstring injury off the bench.

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