Ipswich Town look to bounce back from their defeat at Preston North End with a big clash at home to West Brom this afternoon (12.30pm). Alex Jones takes a look at the Baggies.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Baggies could extend their lead on the chasing pack if they win at Portman RoadThe Baggies could extend their lead on the chasing pack if they win at Portman Road (Image: PA)

The play-off hunt

There’s a big gap between Ipswich in fourth and West Brom in fifth. The Baggies are listed at 250/1 (via William Hill) to secure a top-two finish, highlighting what their battle is.

There’s no guarantee of a play-off place, although they’ve put themselves in a good position. They head into today’s game sitting three points above Hull City and four points above Coventry City, boasting a game in hand on the latter.

Below them, there’s fairly significant discontent at Sunderland, Norwich City and Preston North End, although any of them could go on a run and break into the top six. Norwich in particular have hit real form.

But West Brom, by and large, have more than enough quality to make it. In fact, their underlying numbers show that they’re good enough to compete with the top teams in the division. They’ve beaten Leeds and Ipswich this season while running Leicester and Southampton incredibly close.

They’ve been let down by their away form and their inconsistency, although they should have enough to make it into the play-offs in May.

East Anglian Daily Times: Guochuan Lai is looking to sell the club as soon as possibleGuochuan Lai is looking to sell the club as soon as possible (Image: PA)

The off-field issues

West Brom's performances and results this season don't tell the whole story. Scratch beneath the surface and you'll find quite a lot of discontent and concern surrounding the club, the finances and their future.

Guochuan Lai bought the Baggies for over £200 million back in 2016, but he was criticised for not paying back a £5 million loan which was paid to one of his companies in June 2021. There are other outstanding loans which are yet to be repaid, while Lai is borrowing money from an independent lender that isn't owed to the club.

He hasn't been able to provide any investment aside from television money and parachute payments, borrowing more than £20 million from American investment company MSD Holdings Limited.

If they can't win promotion this season, there will be huge pressure to sell key assets in the first-team squad with little in the way of finances to sign replacements. However, reports suggest that a takeover could be close, with the club on the market for around £30 million plus debts and loans according to the Telegraph.

East Anglian Daily Times: West Brom were knocked out of the FA Cup by arch-rivals WolvesWest Brom were knocked out of the FA Cup by arch-rivals Wolves (Image: PA)

Mixed fortunes in local games

The FA Cup fourth-round draw provided us with one local derby - West Brom vs Wolves. The two sides hadn’t met in a competitive game with fans since 2012, when the Baggies won 5-1 at Molineux.

Tempers ran high in the clash at the Hawthorns as the game was stopped in the second half due to fans clashing in the stands. On the pitch, Gary O’Neil’s side earned a comfortable 2-0 win thanks to goals from Pedro Neto and Matheus Cunha. It had the potential to derail their momentum and potentially their entire season.

The defeat piled pressure onto their Championship clash against local rivals Birmingham City, who are fighting to avoid relegation to League One. The match itself was fairly even, but January recruit Andreas Weimann struck in the 85th minute to take all three points on home soil.

Corberan will hope that their campaign will be defined by the second game rather than the first.

East Anglian Daily Times: Carlos Corberan's side are looking to win on the road for the first time since December 12thCarlos Corberan's side are looking to win on the road for the first time since December 12th (Image: PA)

What Corberan has said about Town

It's fair to say that Corberan sees Town as one of the promotion favourites in the Championship. The Spaniard was full of praise for the work that Kieran McKenna has done to this point, stressing that their January recruits could help improve their recent dip in form.

“There are three clubs in the Championship this year who a lot of people will see as Premier League clubs," he explained. "Leeds United, Leicester and Southampton were all in the Premier League for a number of years before coming down to the Championship.

“Ipswich weren’t one of those sides in terms of playing in the Premier League, but they have been up there with those three teams this season in terms of points and the number of wins they have been getting.

“They are one of the best-performing teams in the division this year.

“There is a gap between them and us. They are fourth and we are fifth.

“We want to keep improving and we want to finish the season in the best position possible.

“I don’t need to mention how good a job their coach Kieran McKenna is doing because the numbers are there for everyone to see.

“Yes, they haven’t been able to pick up as many wins recently as they managed to in the first three or four months of the season, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

“It’s impossible to think we can win at Ipswich without being strong at set-pieces, in defence or in attack. It’s an encounter which is going to demand our best levels.

“They have added real quality to their squad in January and they have a really good style.

“They’re a side who now have different ways to win games. Kieffer Moore for me is a player who is a Premier League player. With him on the pitch, you don’t need to play well in every game to win games. He’s very dangerous and we know that.

“Our performance against them at The Hawthorns was very, very good. However, this is a completely different challenge and we need to be ready.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Grady Diangana, who scored against Town in November, will be unavailable todayGrady Diangana, who scored against Town in November, will be unavailable today (Image: Pagepix)

Who could play?

West Brom will be without four key players today - two through injury and two through international duty.

Matthew Phillips and Josh Maja are expected to be missing until the latter stages of the season. The former has injured his hamstring while the latter is dealing with a knock to his ankle.

Semi Ajayi will be involved in tomorrow’s AFCON final after Nigeria beat South Africa on penalties earlier this week. Grady Diangana is set to play in DR Congo’s third-place play-off tie later this afternoon.

The Baggies do boast an impressive squad depth, with the likes of Brandon Thomas-Asante and Tom Fellows stepping into the starting lineup and performing well. The latter earned a new deal after scoring against Aldershot Town and Blackburn Rovers last month.

Possible lineup: 4-2-3-1: Palmer; Furlong, Bartley, Kipre, Townsend; Yokuslu, Mowatt; Wallace, Swift, Fellows; Thomas-Asante