Coming off a successful 2012-2013 season where they finished in 8th place (which is their highest ever finish in Premier League history), there seems to be an air of optimism that this season West Bromwich Albion (WBA) can build on that success and establish themselves as a solid mid-table Premier League club.
August was a long time ago.
Heading into the final game of the season, WBA is one spot above the drop zone with a three point gap over 18th place, Norwich City. While mathematically, Norwich can still equal WBA's point tally and relegate them, it would need a bit of a miracle. Not only does it require WBA losing at home to Stoke City (currently at 10th and does not have much to play for except to leapfrog Newcastle United at 9th, and earn themselves additional prize money, so maybe a lot to play for) but Norwich must also win their last game against Arsenal by a score of roughly 16-0, which is highly unlikely. It must be quite a disappointing season for Albion fans, but at the very least they'd get to stay another season in Premier League.
From overachievers to underachievers, let's see what that means for WBA's group of Englishmen heading towards the World Cup.
Liam Ridgewell, defender, 29
Ridgewell has the most appearances this season compared to other WBA players, having played 33 times with a goal and two assists to his name. Ridgewell started his career as a center back for Aston Villa and Birmingham. At Birmingham he was deployed as a left back, and with The Baggies that has been exclusively his position this season. Despite playing as a left back, he is unlike modern full-backs that possess a marauding run in the opponent's half and supporting the attack. His paltry 0.3 crosses per game is a testament to this, and added with only 73% successful passing percentage, its clear that his strong suite is defense.
On the plane or on the beach? As a left back or centre back, it's highly unlikely that Ridgewell would even be considered for a spot with so many names ahead of him in the pecking order.
Ben Foster, goalkeeper, 31
Foster had to miss some time with a spell on the sidelines after suffering a freak injury back in August. In 23 appearances this season he only manages to kept four clean sheets. His ball distribution isn't exactly the best, with a passing success percentage of 42.3% (lower than David Stockdale and Joe Hart, but better than John Ruddy), while also averaging 4.7 accurate long balls per game.
On the plane or on the beach? John Ruddy and Fraser Forster are both younger than Foster, and in the case of Forster he has Champions League experience as an advantage. Even if he makes the provisional squad, it would not be a surprise should he be cut from the squad.
Billy Jones, defender, 27
Jones played 21 times for The Baggies in the league this season primarily as a right back. Similar to his compatriot on the left, Jones offensive contribution is rather minimal (no assists, 0.5 cross per game) but defensively he is solid if unspectacular with averages of two tackles, one interception, and three clearances a game. He's also a better passer than Ridgewell, averaging 32 passes pear game and finding his target 81% of the time.
On the plane or on the beach? Even with injuries over Kyle Walker and Phil Jones, as well as concern over the performance of Glen Johnson, its very unlikely Roy Hodgson will reach deep for Billy Jones name when naming his squad.
Saido Berahino, attacker, 20
Possibly The Baggies's most promising player, Berahino has made 31 appearances in the league this season (though 21 of those as a substitute). After the departure of Romelu Lukaku last summer and Shane Long last January, Berahino stepped up to fill the void left by the two attackers, by scoring five goals (making him WBA's top scorer). However, he still need to work on his defensive side of the game and keeping possession, as these two areas are his particular weakness.
On the plane or on the beach? For now? The beach. But down the line, there is a possibility for an England call-up for him, just don't move too soon to a big club as his teammate can attest below.
Craig Dawson, defender, 24
Dawson has only played 11 times for WBA this season, primarily as a center back though he has played some right back too. His strong suite is in intercepting the ball (2.6 per game) and also snuffing out danger (6.2 clearances per game). But he isn't too comfortable with the ball with a passing success percentage of just 75%.
On the plane or on the beach? The beach, hasn't really played too much to put his name into consideration.
Scott Sinclair, midfielder, 25
Berahino would be wise to pay attention to Sinclair's career trajectory. During his youth career with Chelsea, he wasn't able to breakthrough Chelsea's first team, going on multiple loan spells before moving permanently to Swansea City in 2010. In his two seasons in Wales, he helped Swansea gain promotion as well helping them finish 11th. But in summer 2012, Sinclair moved to Manchester City but again, he wasn't able to break into the first team and was limited to a total of 14 competitive appearances. Last summer he went on loan to WBA, only to made eight league appearances thus far.
On the plane or on the beach? While clearly a talented player, injuries and a lack of playing time has hurt his development. Before thinking of an England call, Sinclair must first focus on finding the right club this summer with some guarantee of playing time.
Luke Daniels, goalkeeper, 26
When Foster suffered that freak injury, Daniels came on for the last 12 minutes and manages to keep a clean sheet. His only other appearance was against Arsenal in The Carling Cup, that ends in a 1-1 draw and a penalty shoot-out defeat for The Baggies.
On the plane or on the beach? Ibiza?
Liam O'Neil, defender, 20
Came off the bench twice for a total of eight minutes.
On the plane or on the beach? Cyprus is nice this time of the year.
Unless noted, all stats courtesy of whoscored.com