Bout of Africa: Odemwingie and Gyan go head to head

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ROY Hodgson is eyeing an intriguing battle of the African strikers at the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Sunderland’s Ghana hitman Asamoah Gyan comes up against West Brom’s Nigerian ace Peter Odemwingie, whose goal was the difference between the sides when they met in August.

Gyan has enjoyed a successful opening season on Wearside since his £13million move from Rennes last summer and saw his profile raised by a last-gasp equaliser for his country against England last week.

But Odemwingie has scored 10 Premier League goals to Gyan’s nine and was considerably cheaper at a bargain £1m from Lokomotiv Moscow.

Baggies boss Hodgson said: “We’re happy with Peter and I’m sure Steve will be happy with Asamoah Gyan.

“His performance for Ghana was exceptional in terms of his effort, work rate and desire. It was a good Ghanaian team full stop.

“It will be intriguing to see which of those strikers has a smile on their face at the end of the day.

“I can’t make comparisons though as I don’t know what I’m comparing with.

“All I need to know is what he can do as an opponent. I knew what he could do before he went to Sunderland but I’m more concerned about my players.”

Despite six games unbeaten since succeeding Roberto Di Matteo as West Brom boss, Hodgson does not expect an easy ride at the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

The Baggies have given themselves a four-point buffer with the drop zone, but they will be back in thick of the dogfight if Sunderland record a first win in eight.

Hodgson added: “Until this unfortunate run of results Sunderland embarked upon they were actually doing very well and looking towards a UEFA place.

“You don’t suddenly over the course of seven games become a bad team and bad club, nor do your good players become bad players. The players at the club are good, the club itself is very good and the management is very good.

“The support up there in Sunderland is fanatical, so we know we’re in for a very tough ride.

“I think it’s about time they won a game and it could come against us.

“The thing about the Premier League that doesn’t get stated enough, is you can go periods without winning a game.

“Okay, it has happened to Sunderland in the last seven games - but it could happen to anyone of us in the next seven games, so we need to be aware of it.”

Meanwhile, former Middlesbrough midfielder James Morrison could return for West Brom tomorrow after missing last weekend’s win over Liverpool with a thigh injury. But Graham Dorrans remains on the sidelines as he recovers from an ankle problem.