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James Morrison has warned his West Bromwich Albion team-mates to be wary of the possibility that the tide may be turning across the patch at Aston Villa.

The Baggies finished top dogs among the West Midlands sides last season for the first time in 33 years and have made a better start than their neighbours this time round.

However, their eye-catching first month and a half in 2012-13 was checked by their Capital One Cup exit at home to Liverpool in midweek while Villa clicked with a stunning extra-time victory at the Etihad Stadium.

Ahead of Sunday's Villa Park derby, Morrison - one of Albion's big successes so far - senses a tough challenge in store.

"Villa are coming off the back of a great result at Manchester City," he said. "We all know they've been struggling a bit but I'm sure they'll be looking at this derby as a chance to get their Premier League season started, but we've started well. The hard work we put in during pre-season has paid off because our results and form have been very good."

The Scotland international midfielder insists Albion's good form has been no surprise inside the dressing room, even if some outside were waiting for a dip in the wake of Roy Hodgson's appointment as England coach.

Albion go into the final weekend of September - and new head coach Steve Clarke's first Midlands derby - in fourth spot after taking ten points from their opening five games.

The Scot hopes Liam Ridgewell will be fit to continue at left-back despite a calf injury but is also assessing the fitness of on-loan Dynamo Kiev defender Goran Popov as Steven Reid is still sidelined by hamstring trouble.

The 27-year-old Macedonian international signed on the last day of the summer transfer window but suffered a groin problem during his opening few days at The Hawthorns.


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