WBA boss happy to 'play ugly'
A home win against Tony Pulis' robust Potters would be vindication of Di Matteo's efforts to strengthen the resolve of the side he inherited from predecessor Tony Mowbray 16 months ago. That team played a neat passing game but lacked the necessary backbone to survive in the Premier League. The weakness has been addressed by Di Matteo during his time at the helm, and the Italian believes his 12th-placed outfit now possess the mindset to put brawn before beauty. "I don't want my team to be pretty," said Di Matteo. "I want my team to win games. That's the ultimate aim. "I don't care if I need to win by playing a certain way, that's not a problem for me. "I want to win games. If we have to be ugly to win tomorrow, then we will play ugly. "We all enjoy watching teams play an attractive style - but you need to respect other styles. "There are different ways to win football games and styles can be secondary." West Brom and Stoke have experienced starkly contrasting fortunes in recent weeks, with the Baggies seeking to end a four-match winless run and Saturday's visitors eyeing a third straight league win. Those results have conspired to leave both sides on 16 points after 13 games, and victory for either side will probably be rewarded with a place inside the top eight. Di Matteo admits it would be wrong to label Stoke as one-trick ponies, but concedes their threat from set-pieces cannot be overlooked. "Stoke have added a different dimension with the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Matt Etherington, Tuncay and Kenwyne Jones but they still score a lot from set-pieces so it will be a challenge to play against them," he added on the club's official website. "I've seen them play many times and no-one has really come up with a solution to playing against them. "We haven't conceded many from set-pieces but they will throw up different challenges." Chris Brunt is a doubt for the encounter after picking up an injury on international duty in midweek. The midfielder sustained a groin injury during Northern Ireland's 1-1 draw with Morocco at Windsor Park on Wednesday and was substituted at half-time. Brunt's injury has frustrated Di Matteo, who questioned the need for friendlies in the middle of a busy domestic period. "Brunty picked up a groin injury... and that really annoys me," said Di Matteo. "We've just had four games in 12 days - and one of those games was with nine men [two players were sent off in the 2-1 loss to Blackpool] and put a lot of demands on Brunty. "The last thing we needed was for him to go to a midweek international game because the risk of injury increases. "Friendlies at this stage of the season don't make sense to me." Injured defender Jonas Olsson (Achilles) and striker Ishmael Miller (abdomen) are definitely ruled out of the game although Di Matteo welcomes back defender Gonzalo Jara from a three-game suspension. "It's going to be interesting to see how we cope with Stoke," Di Matteo added. "I just wish I had all my players available." Meanwhile, the Baggies have confirmed New Zealand international Chris Wood has joined Brighton after being recalled from his loan at Barnsley. The 18-year-old has joined the npower League One leaders until January 3 and could make his debut at home to Bristol Rovers. Albion's sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth said: "Barnsley were happy to keep Woodsy but he wasn't getting as many games as we would have liked. "Brighton showed an interest and we think this will be a great experience for him."