West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke expects a stiff challenge at Manchester City this evening, regardless of the team they send out.
The Baggies’ visit to the Etihad is City’s last game before the FA Cup final against Wigan on Saturday and Roberto Mancini could choose to rotate his squad ahead of the Wembley showpiece. But Clarke believes there will be no significant drop in quality even if his opposite number does make changes.
“They’ve got a squad of players that is packed full of internationals,” said Clarke.
“Whether Roberto chooses to play his full team in preparation for the final or whether he chooses to make some changes, they will be a strong team.”
While Clarke looks on in envy at the options available to his opposite number, he is likely to travel with the same squad that was defeated 3-2 by the Latics on Saturday.
Chris Brunt and Goran Popov are unlikely to be fit enough to take part, Marc-Antoine Fortune is suspended and Peter Odemwingie looks increasingly marginalised.
The striker, who attempted to force a move to QPR in January and has been considered public enemy No 1 by fans ever since, has not played since 30 March.
Clarke insists Odemwingie may still see action before the end of the season but decided not to send him on against Wigan after he was loudly abused by the crowd having been sent to warm up. Indeed, Clarke eventually decided to hand 16-year-old Isaiah Brown a debut from the bench – a move that was greeted much more warmly from the stands.