West Bromwich Albion in striker dilemma ahead of Villa derby

Saido Berahino Albion

Baggies manager Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye ahead of Tuesday's derby.

West Bromwich Albion face the first of two derby games against Aston Villa this week knowing that victory in both will secure an FA Cup semi-final slot and a trip to Wembley, as well as almost certainly ensuring that they will be out of the relegation picture.

However, they face uncertainty up front with Saido Berahino, Brown Ideye and Victor Anichebe all struggling for fitness ahead of the first game on Tuesday.

Under Tony Pulis, the Baggies have pulled away from the relegation places with fine victories over West Ham, Swansea City and Southampton, keeping four clean sheets in a row. Nigerian striker Ideye has gone from £10 million flop to one of the first names on the team sheet while England Under-21 international Berahino has hit the goal trail again, scoring three goals in four appearances in a fruitful partnership with the former Dynamo Kyiv man since the end of the transfer window

However, WBA will be anxious to claim bragging rights against a Villa side who have in recent years beaten them when it looked like the Baggies almost certainly should record victory.

In last year's game at Villa Park the Villans came back from being 2-0 down after just nine minutes to lead 3-2 just 15 minutes later, winning the game thanks to a second half Christian Benteke penalty, and the victory earlier this season at the Hawthorns was the Baggies' first win over their Claret and Blue rivals in six attempts going back to October 2011.

Pulis will be well aware that Villa are goal-shy at the moment and are in real danger of the drop but without their main men up front the Baggies may have to look to Beninese midfielder Stéphane Sessègnon to lead the line in a lone role up front. The former Sunderland man has only six goals in 50 league appearances for the Baggies with just one coming this season in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United at the Hawthorns.

Of West Brom's 25 league goals this season, 15 have come from their three main strikers, which should underline just how big a loss they are; only defender Craig Dawson has more than a single league goal for the Baggies outside of Berahino and Ideye.

All this adds up to a tough decision for Tony Pulis - whether to risk his strikers who have been carrying knocks and in the case of Berahino having to play with an injection or does he put faith in the rest of the squad to do the job?

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