West Bromwich Albion face rivals Birmingham City on Friday, October 15 and Matt Clarke could be fit to start against the Blues, much to the happiness of Kevin Phillips.

The 25-year-old had been out of action for more than a month with a hamstring injury but returned to the bench in their 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at the beginning of October before playing for the U23s in their 1-0 win over Sunderland days later.

Clarke has made three Championship appearances this season, last featuring in August’s 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers. He’s had the international break to build up his match fitness and may be in with a shout of starting against Birmingham.

Phillips hopes so and told West Brom News: “Of course now with the break, you’d like to think he’ll be in and around it come when they next play.

“Big boost he’s got some minutes under his belt, we know how experienced he is and where West Brom are sitting at the minute, they need those experienced players back in the side to help them. That will be a big boost.”

Clarke joined West Brom on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion over the summer and could operate as a third centre-back in Valerien Ismael’s system rather than Conor Townsend if fit, but time will tell if he gets the nod on Friday.

He wasn’t deemed fit enough to start in Albion’s last league game but got valuable minutes in the reserves, so his match fitness will have improved.

In other news, fans on social media fear Sam Johnstone will leave after Southampton interest