West Brom head coach Valerien Ismael revealed England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone missed the 2-0 home defeat to Preston through disciplinary issues on a night when fans turned on him.
Johnstone, who is a target for Southampton, failed to make the squad after a three-match ban and was replaced by David Button. He is out of contract in the summer and recently said: “I see the [transfer] speculation and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s out of my control but I want to be back playing in the Premier League.”
But as Monday’s transfer deadline closes in, Johnstone missed out against PNE and he will not play against Millwall.
“We had a matter, an issue in the squad and have solved the problem,” said Ismael.
“He was not in the squad tonight and he will not be in the squad on Saturday but after that he will be involved. It will stay internal.”
BirminghamLive reported that his omission was not thought to be transfer-related, but Johnstone’s desire is clear and he can be far from happy.
The England back-up keeper has been tracked by Saints for several months, according to HampshireLive.
Ralf Hasenhuttl has made it clear he is in the market for a new keeper with Alex McCarthy, Fraser Forster and Willy Caballero all out of contract.
In October, Hasenhuttl said: “We will definitely extend the contract of one of the two keepers, then the other one will leave.
“I think that, in the future, we will look to sign a new goalkeeper. This will be maybe a topic for next summer. There is still a long way to go until that point, though.”
WBA fans turn against Ismael
Meanwhile, WBA failed to create a single effort on target and fans chanted for Slaven Bilic, one of Ismael’s predecessors. He was the last man to lead the club to the Premier League. They also sang ‘Valerien Ismael, your football is s**t’.
Their unbeaten home record in the Championship also went after a club-record 13 games.
Ismael admitted: “We understand everything. We accept it.
“I take my responsibility and when we see something like that, they have the right to boo and criticise.
“It was more than disappointing. I think tonight we deserved all the criticism we got and the disappointment and frustration because the performance was not there.
“We missed everything we wanted – it was a very strange feeling.
“We played with fear and we didn’t recognise our team. It was a big disappointment.
“You can lose but we missed the basics of desire and passion and there’s no excuse. We deserved to lose.”
Emil Riis Jakobsen prodded Preston ahead in the 41st minute after Kyle Bartley deflected Greg Cunningham’s cross goalwards.
Debutant substitute Cameron Archer nodded the second on 76 after Button could only parry Cunningham’s angled drive.