Match Previews

Ruth: We're aiming for PL2 playoffs

Albion face Sunderland in Premier League 2 on Friday night.

By Charlie Hanson • 01 March 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
The men's under-21s currently sit in eighth in Premier League 2.

Men’s under-21 head coach Shannon Ruth wants his team to focus on securing as strong a position as possible in Premier League 2 ahead of the title playoffs.

There is a new format in Premier League 2 this season. After the regular season of 20 match weeks has been completed, the top 16 teams will qualify for a single elimination playoff.

Teams will be drawn against each other based on their league positions, for example the team finishing first will face the team that finished 16th. These will be one-off elimination matches with the higher-seeded team at home.

With Albion sat in eighth with 14 games played, they have six games to finish as high up the league as possible, starting with Sunderland away on Friday.

By Paul Hazlewood
Shannon Ruth's team were knocked out of the Premier League International Cup in their last outing.

“We’re able to concentrate on the league now,” Ruth reflected after his team were knocked out of the International Cup last week. “The West Ham game [in the International Cup] was our 34th game of the season and that’s what we want - the players to be exposed to lots of different types of fixtures.

"That means you don’t necessarily compete at your very best every game because of physical capabilities, the demand of being an under-21 group and the nature of the part you play in the first team and the transfer window meaning players will head out on loan.

“It’s a forever revolving group that puts a huge amounts of demands on us constantly.

“So to be at a stage where we now only have to focus on the league, where our position dictates whether or not we get playoffs and the draw you get, gives us our main target. We’re in a place where we can focus on trying to finish as high as possible.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Kamari Doyle joined Albion from Southampton in January.

While the likes of Cameron Peupion and Benicio Baker-Boaitey were involved with the first team on Wednesday in the defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup, Ruth’s team was bolstered with four new signings during the January transfer window.

Goalkeeper Steven Hall joined from Adelaide United, midfielder Kamari Doyle came from Southampton and forwards Caylan Vickers and Josh Robertson signed from Reading and Sunderland respectively.

“They’ve settled in really well,” Ruth added. “We deliberately got them involved as quickly as possible.

"Steven [Hall] has also played an in-house game. Josh [Robertson] and Caylan [Vickers] were in the first squad they were available for. Kamari [Doyle] is returning from a long injury but got minutes at Stoke and we’re really pleased with his contributions and hopefully we can build on that and finish the season strongly.”