WEST Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was left out of Valerien Ismael’s squad for their loss to Preston due to an “internal issue” with just days left of the January transfer window.

The 28-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, was available to return for the Baggies after completing a three-match ban following his sending-off against Cardiff on 2 January.

Ismael said Johnstone, who has three caps for England, will also not be considered for Saturday's trip to Millwall, which is the final match before the window closes.

The shot-stopper has been in the past linked to a return to the Premier League via transfer, with Saints one of the teams named in various reports.

David Button instead played in goal for the 2-0 loss at The Hawthorns – their first home loss of the campaign.

“We had a matter, an issue in the squad and have solved the problem,” Ismael said, speaking after the defeat.

“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.”

Speaking earlier this month, Johnstone told the Metro: “I see the 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.”

West Brom are currently fifth in the Championship, seven points behind the automatic promotion places.

Whether the internal issue is anything to do with the window is unclear, with Ismeal planning for his involvement next week.

Saints need to find a long-term solution to their goalkeeping situation, with all three of Alex McCarthy, Fraser Forster and Willy Caballero’s deals expiring this summer.

McCarthy is expected to have a new contract announced, while it is likely Forster will move on. Caballero is already 40-years-old.

With Johnstone out of contract also this year, the England man could be Ralph Hasenhuttl’s long-term number one if they were to make a move.