Steve Bruce is being seriously considered by the West Bromwich Albion hierarchy to replace the sacked Valérien Ismaël. The former Aston Villa and Birmingham manager suggested he would not return to the dugout after leaving Newcastle in October but has been identified as an ideal candidate to help the flagging Championship side.Ismaël’s remit was to win promotion this season but the club are fifth and in danger of dropping out of the play-offs. He has departed less than 12 months into a four-year contract after three defeats in the past four matches.Last month West Brom sanctioned the signing of Daryl Dike, who worked with Ismaël at Barnsley, but the striker has since been ruled out for two months with a hamstring injury. Last week Ismaël dropped the goalkeeper Sam Johnstone after a row, and other players were unconvinced by the Frenchman’s methods.Ismaël was appointed on 24 June after West Brom paid compensation to take him from Barnsley but supporters have been critical of results and the team’s direct style. Ismaël guided Barnsley to fifth in the Championship last season, after taking over in October 2020 with the club 21st.“West Bromwich Albion Football Club can confirm Valérien Ismaël has today left his position as head coach,” a statement said. “Assistant head coach Adam Murray has also departed.”Ismaël succeeded Sam Allardyce after West Brom’s relegation and won four and drew one of his first five league games. Andy Carroll was another forward signed in January but he played once before Ismaël’s exit.Quick GuideChampionship: costly defeats for Derby and BarnsleyShowDerby County and Barnsley both remain mired in the Championship relegation zone after defeats on Wednesday. Two late goals saw Huddersfield past Wayne Rooney’s side, while the Tykes lost 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers Cardiff.Derby had lost just one of their last seven league games but suffered a huge blow after only three minutes when Richard Stearman was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Lewis O’Brien. Duane Holmes (pictured) went close three times for Huddersfield in the first half, with Louis Sibley sending a shot just wide for the visitors.In the second half, Derby continued to frustrate their opponents and were 15 minutes from a priceless point when Holmes’ shot flicked off Krystian Bielik and looped beyond keeper Ryan Allsop. Substitute Jordan Rhodes secured victory on the rebound after Allsop had parried Danny Ward’s shot, as Huddersfield climbed to fifth in the table.At Oakwell, on-loan substitute Uche Ikpeazu scored the only goal for Cardiff, just eight minutes after coming on for his debut. The tall forward latched on to a long ball forward and held off a defender before scuffing his shot into the bottom corner.Aaron Leya Iseka thought he had snatched a point for Barnsley in stoppage time, but was flagged offside. Victory allows Cardiff to move nine points clear of the bottom three as Barnsley (eight points) and Derby (seven) remain a long way behind Reading in 21st place.Photograph: Martin Rickett/PAThank you for your feedback.West Brom have restructured the top of the club, bringing in the former Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay as chief executive in place of Xu Ke and announcing that the owner, Guochuan Lai, will take over as chairman from Li Piyue.