Slaven Bilic preparing as normal for Newcastle trip after coronavirus outbreak
Slaven Bilic says West Brom have no concerns over safety when it comes to facing Newcastle on Saturday.
The Magpies’ game against Aston Villa scheduled for last Friday was postponed after a coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of their training ground.
Newcastle returned to training on Tuesday, and regarding the trip his side are due to make to St James’ Park this weekend, Albion boss Bilic said on Thursday: “They opened their training ground and we knew we were going to play the game.
“So it’s normal preparation. It looks positive, hopefully we’re going to play it and that’s good news.
“It wasn’t us who was monitoring the situation at Newcastle, it was Newcastle and the Premier League, and they decided the situation improved a lot, in a positive way. They told us the game is on, so we don’t have any doubts.”
He added: “I didn’t have any of the guys knocking on my door saying like they are worried because Newcastle has got a number of cases.
“This is serious football and the Premier League would not allow any sort of those things to happen – they wouldn’t risk the health of the players. And Newcastle wouldn’t do it.”
Asked if he expected Newcastle to be weakened as a result of the outbreak, Bilic said: “It doesn’t have to be.
“We had a significant number of players, and they were not all weak when they came back to training. Some of them were in a shape like they were before we found out they were positive. Some of them found it a little bit more difficult.
“I don’t know the situation for Newcastle. It’s definitely not a good thing for them, but we are not expecting the guys who are unfit to start the game. It depends. It’s all individual. But we have a preparation that we are expecting a team that is fully fit, full of confidence.”
West Brom, 19th in the Premier League, head into the contest having been beaten 5-1 at home by Crystal Palace on their last outing.
Having had Matheus Pereira sent off just after he equalised on the half-hour mark, Albion then conceded four times in the second half. Pereira will serve a three-game ban following an unsuccessful appeal by West Brom.
Bilic said: “The 5-1 defeat, I’m still very angry about it, the way we gave up after 3-1.
“But I told the guys at the same time we can’t lose the confidence – we were working so hard to get it back, through performances and training, and we should remember that first 45 first minutes, especially when we were all on the pitch, that we were good.”
Bilic described it as “unacceptable second half”, while also saying: “I’m not trying to find excuses, I’m trying to find reasons and the biggest reason (for what happened in the second half) was we were one man down after around half an hour.”
When asked about support from fans, he said: “I feel the connection. I have a job to do and I am totally focused on how to win the games, me, the staff and the players. It’s nice to know the fans are recognising the situation. But we have to pick up the points.”
Bilic was also on Thursday asked about Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir players walking off the pitch on Tuesday after the fourth official was accused of racism, with the game not resuming until the following night.
Asked if he would be up for taking his players off the pitch and stopping the match if a racist term was used towards one of his staff members, Bilic said: “Yes, that is our responsibility. If that happens, we have to stop it. If that actually happened, I’m totally for it.
“There’s no room for any sort of racism in life, not to mention sport.”