West Brom duo Peter Odemwingie and Chris Brunt facing battle to be fit for derby clash with Aston Villa

Youssouf Mulumbu boosts Di Matteo as he returns from suspension
West Bromwich Albion manager Roberto Di Matteo could be without the services of two key players for the west Midlands derby against Aston Villa.

The Baggies are sweating over the fitness of key striker Peter Odemwingie and midfielder Chris Brunt.

Odemwingie scored twice in the 3-1 win over Newcastle last weekend but has sat out of training all week after straining his groin during the match. The absence of the striker, who has scored six goals this season, would be a big loss to Di Matteo. Brunt is also struggling with a groin injury and has not played an active part in training.

“We have some problems. Odemwingie hasn't trained this week yet," Di Matteo told the club's official website.

“He has got a groin problem.

"If he manages to train on Friday, we have a chance. We have to wait and see how he is going to be.

"Chris Brunt had to miss some training sessions so we just have to manage him and Peter and hope they will be available for Saturday."

Albion are flying high in the Premier League this season and are five points clear of rivals Villa ahead of the derby encounter.

They are full of confidence after back-to-back wins against Everton and Newcastle, scoring seven goals in the process, but Di Matteo has warned everyone at the club not to get ahead of themselves as they take on a Villa side they hav not beaten in 25 years.

He said: "I don't think it counts for very much [being above Villa] at this stage of the season.

"We are delighted with the points we have [22] by the middle of December.

"We are just going to try and add some more as soon as we can. That's our focus.

"You can sense from the fans how important the derby is. From the start of the season, there are a few fixtures that the supporters remind you of.

"But it is not just the local derbies you need to do well in. You need to do well in the other games as well otherwise it won't be enough."

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