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Opposition Lowdown: Richard Beale’s West Brom

The Royals return to Berkshire this weekend with a home tie against West Bromwich Albion. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

West Bromwich Albion Training Session Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images


West Brom finished in 10th place in the Championship last season, eight points off the play-off places in their first season back in the second tier, following relegation from the Premier League in 2020/21.

They have had a disappointing start to the season, currently sitting in the relegation zone in 22nd place having only recorded one win, eight draws and four losses. Their one win came back in August where they beat Hull City 5-2 at the Hawthorns, with The Baggies now winless in eight league games.

West Brom claimed the bragging rights over Reading last season, beating the Royals 1-0 at The Hawthorns in December last year, before securing another 0-1 in Reading’s last home game of the season in April.

The boss

Richard Beale (caretaker manager): West Brom are on the lookout for a new boss after sacking Steve Bruce at the start of the week, following their poor start to the season, with only one win to their name so far. Bruce only lasted eight months in the West Midlands, having joined the club in February, taking over from former Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael, who had left by mutual consent.

Under-21s manager Richard Beale has been given the role of caretaker manager while the Baggies search for their next manager and will be assisted by former player James Morrison. Beale has been with the club since the summer of 2021 and has held youth coaching roles at both Birmingham City and Aston Villa, plus a stint as assistant manager at non-league Solihull Moors.


West Brom managed to keep the majority of their squad intact over the summer, with only four players leaving the Hawthorns permanently. Royals striker Andy Carroll was released by The Baggies at the end of his short-term deal, while goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and midfielder Romaine Sawyers joined Crystal Palace and Cardiff City respectively following the conclusion of their contracts. Forward Callum Robinson also left the club this summer, joining Cardiff for a reported £1.5m.

West Bromwich Albion v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

West Brom signed two players for a fee this summer with midfielder Jayson Molumby arriving from Brighton and striker Brandon Thomas-Asante joining from Salford City. Midfielder John Swift ended a six-year spell at Reading in the summer, joining the Baggies on a free transfer at the end of his contract, while Jed Wallace also ended a five-year spell with Millwall in similar circumstances. Defenders Martin Kelly and Erik Pieters and midfielders Okay Yokuslu and Tom Rogic have all arrived on free transfers.

Defender Kean Bryan will miss out as he recovers from an ACL injury, while defender Semi Ajayi and striker Daryl Dike are also expected to miss out as they continue to recover from ankle and thigh injuries respectively.

Expected line-up

Button, O’Shea, Pieters, Kelly, Townsend, Livermore, Phillips, Swift, Wallace, Diangana, Grant

Key player

Grady Diangana: Attacking midfielder Diangana originally joined West Brom on loan from West Ham in August 2019 and played in 30 league games as The Baggies secured promotion back to the Premier League. He signed permanently the following summer for an undisclosed fee. Diangana had been in the youth setup at West Ham since he was 12 years old and made his debut for The Hammers in 2018, going on to make 21 appearances for the club that season.

He has featured in all of West Brom’s league games so far this season and has two goals and three assists to his name. Diangana is a lively attacking midfielder who can play on either wing and is known for his strong dribbling skills and his eye for goal.

One to watch

Brandon Thomas-Asante: Striker Thomas-Asante joined West Brom at the end of August, securing a move from League Two side Salford City. He started his career at Milton Keynes Dons, coming through the club’s academy before his debut in 2016. After loan spells at Sutton United and Oxford City, Thomas-Asante joined Ebbsfleet on a permanent deal, before quickly joining Salford City in September 2019.

He spent three seasons at Salford, scoring 30 goals for the club and finished last season as their top scorer with 13 goals. The 24 year-old has scored twice for the Baggies so far this season and scored on his debut for the club. Thomas-Asante is a striker who likes to run at defenders and has strong finishing skills.