Read West Brom predict that Kyle Bartley will start at centre-back when West Bromwich Albion travel to the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough on Saturday evening, but who will his defensive partner be?

Steve Bruce has a difficult choice between Semi Ajayi and Dara O’Shea. Both defenders featured heavily in pre-season and could start alongside Bartley without issue, so it’s up in the air who will get the nod on Saturday.

Ajayi made 31 league appearances last season and had to convince Bruce to play him after Valerien Ismael was sacked in the winter. The 28-year-old overcame a two-month spell out in the cold to finish the season as a regular and ended up playing twice as much as O’Shea.

O’Shea made just 14 league appearances in an injury-hit campaign at West Brom, but he also finished as a regular for the final five games. Like Ajayi, the 23-year-old signed a new deal until 2025 this summer, so he has the faith of his manager.

Ajayi played in five of West Brom’s six pre-season friendlies while O’Shea featured in four, so it’s too close to call on who will start.

In other news, here’s how West Brom could line up v Middlesbrough with John Swift, Jed Wallace and Daryl Dike