Hodgson seeking derby boost

Albion were one of the Premier League’s form teams after Hodgson’s

arrival in February, 20 points from their final 12 games securing

their top-flight status for another season. It has been a different

scenario so far this campaign, with Albion only outside the bottom

three on goal difference and playing catch-up after a difficult

opening run of fixtures. Hodgson said: “We’ve had a mixed bag so

far. We have the enthusiasm and desire and that’s a good start. “We

were very good in the opening two games against Chelsea and

Manchester United without getting any points. “There are a lot of

good players in our squad and there is no better place than a derby

to get us going again.” Albion defender and Northern Ireland

captain Gareth McAuley echoed Hodgson’s sentiments. He said: “The

performance is the most important thing at the weekend. It’s

important to get the supporters right behind us and create a great

atmosphere. “Then if we get a result, that kind of thing can

kickstart the confidence and the togetherness of the whole club and

the supporters.” Hodgson has been in charge of derbies in England

and abroad and knows the importance of them to supporters. He said:

“If I said this derby was bigger than Real Madrid v Barcelona, most

people would think I’m totally wrong. But the people in this area

would not see that. Derbies are important to the local fans. “All

that matters to me is this game, as I have an interest in this club

and this area. “Derbies are about passion and skill. If it was just

the former I’d go and pick the 11 biggest and most passionate West

Brom fans but unfortunately, they’re probably not that good at

football!”