Slaven Bilic backs Baggies to bounce into Championship action with a bang


West Brom are second ahead of their home match against Birmingham on Saturday.

Slaven Bilic insists West Brom are ready to hit the ground running as they prepare for the Sky Bet Championship restart.

The Baggies resume their promotion bid lying in second spot, a point behind Leeds and six ahead of third-placed Fulham.

Birmingham visit The Hawthorns in the first round of fixtures since the suspension of football in March, and Bilic feels his side are in good shape for the challenge ahead.

“It’s been a long time, but we were focused from day one,” the Baggies boss told the club website.

“We are at the stage where we are ready to be playing competitive games.

“The players will get their confidence and their rhythm – they might need some time of course. But for the start, we couldn’t be any better really.

“We know it’s going to be extremely hard, it’s a new situation for everybody. There’s a lot at stake.

“Physically and psychologically there’s going to be big pressure on us, but as I say always – special achievements and extraordinary achievements don’t come by default. You have to earn them. And I think we are ready.”

With Leeds playing at Cardiff on Sunday West Brom are primed to take top spot, temporarily at least.

Fulham face a west London derby with another side in the play-off spots, Brentford.

The English Football League has confirmed the dates for the play-offs, with the semi-final first legs being played on July 26 and 27 and the return matches taking place on July 29 and 30 ahead of a Wembley final on August 4.

“We’re looking forward to playing games again and doing what we love to do,” defender Tim Ream told Fulham TV.

“It’s been a long time coming. To start off with a derby is going to be strange with no one in the stands, but the intensity will be there. We know what’s at stake.”

Nottingham Forest, in fifth, travel to Sheffield Wednesday while sixth-placed Preston head to lowly Luton.

Elsewhere Millwall host Derby, Middlesbrough entertain Swansea and Charlton travel to Hull.

Rock-bottom Barnsley head to QPR, Blackburn welcome Bristol City and Stoke go to Reading.