Watching brief suits Appleton

Any two from five teams – current drop zone occupants Wigan and

Blackpool, plus Birmingham, Wolves and Blackburn – could join West

Ham in making the drop to the npower Championship after the

season’s final round of matches. Albion themselves have

consistently yo-yoed between the top two divisions in recent years,

but they sit securely in 11th place this time around and Appleton

is delighted such an experience will not be repeated. “I wouldn’t

want to swap places with any of them,” he told the club website

ahead of the trip to Newcastle. “There are so many twists and turns

that are going to happen and it’s not going to be one for the

faint-hearted. “I can imagine there will be a lot of people

drowning their sorrows on Sunday night. “I think what has happened

is they have all given themselves a chance over the past few weeks.

It could easily have been one or two, or even three, teams already

down if they hadn’t put a shift in over the past few weeks. “But

now, all of a sudden, we’ve got a fantastic scenario.” A fantastic

scenario that the Baggies, for once, can regard with curiosity as

they focus on other matters. They will face the Magpies – also

promoted last season – jostling for position in mid-table, with a

top-10 finish still well within reach for either club should the

teams above drop points. West Brom go into the game on the same

46-point total as Stoke – in ninth – and Bolton, with eighth-placed

Fulham only a further two points clear. Newcastle, meanwhile, trail

their midlands opponents by a point and will also have eyes on the

top half. “I suppose we have got a little bit of a luxury that we

don’t have to worry about the threat of relegation,” Appleton said.

“That said, there will be a lot of fans going to the game on Sunday

so we know how important it is to get something out of the game.

“Hopefully it will be a win and hopefully we can get ourselves in

the top half of the table.” Teenagers James Hurst and George Thorne

are in line to play some part in the game as Albion make the most

of the low-pressure finish to their campaign, but Scotland

midfielder Graham Dorrans remains on the sidelines due to an ankle

injury.