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Jan 15, 2013

Redknapp could get frosty reception at West Brom

Harry Redknapp has been warned he could face a welcoming committee with a difference when he sends his QPR side into action against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday for the third time in less than three weeks.

After meetings at Loftus Road in the Premier League and FA Cup since Christmas, recent transfer talk involving the two clubs means the heat is turned up for when they collide again in a third-round replay at The Hawthorns - with a home game against MK Dons or Sheffield Wednesday awaiting the winners.

And Redknapp could be made to feel the displeasure of Baggies fans after his unsuccessful attempts to prise away two of their top players.

Improving Rangers tried to bolster their defence last week when they made an unsuccessful £5 million bid for Swedish international Jonas Olsson.

And they have followed up by offering around £2 million for forward Peter Odemwingie - another approach Albion have kicked into touch.

"That's what happens in football," said Hawthorns joint assistant head coach Kevin Keen. "The supporters might not be happy.

"But I'm sure they will give the team their full support whatever happens. Peter and Jonas are two experienced players who have been here a long time and they will go out and do their best for West Brom. I'm sure the fans will support them just as strongly."

Odemwingie, who hasn't scored since the victory at home to Chelsea in mid-November, hasn't got on in either game against Rangers but started in the 3-2 home League win over them in the autumn.

Keen, whose late father Mike captained the Rangers side who beat Albion in the 1967 League Cup final, is an admirer of the Redknapp style.

He worked with him at West Ham in the early 1990s and remembers their time together with fondness.

"He was assistant to Billy Bonds in 1992-93 when West Ham got promoted to the Premier League," he added. "He was full of life and energy, very funny and knowledgeable. As much as anything, his enthusiasm transfers to the players.

"There is an enthusiasm and a buzz and an energy about him. I think he is very well respected as a football coach within the game.

"He does have that media personality as a Cockney chappy who can reel out lines. But, as a football coach and a manager, he is up there in the last ten years as one of the best there has been."

Albion hope that midfielder Claudio Yacob could be fit for the weekend derby against Aston Villa at The Hawthorns.

The Argentina international has had six weeks out with a hamstring problem since the Premier League clash with Stoke at the Hawthorns on December 1.

"Claudio is a really key player and, let's be honest, we've missed him," said Keen.

"He has got a really big role in the team and earlier in the season, we saw how important it was. He has had a little bit of a setback which slowed down his recovery and we've taken it slowly this time to ensure he is okay.

"We're hopeful he will be back, if not for this weekend, then the weekend after."

Strikers Shane Long (dead leg) and Marc-Antoine Fortune (hamstring) could also return to face Villa.

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