Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Clarke hopes Odemwingie saga peters out

Peter Odemwingie received a mixed reception when he returned as substitute for West Brom

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke hopes a line can be drawn under the Peter Odemwingie saga after the striker made his comeback as a late substitute in the 2-1 home success over Sunderland.

Odemwingie replaced two-goal hero Romelu Lukaku who took his goal tally to 12 goals - all in the Barclays Premier League - this season. The 31-year-old received a mixed reception with boos intermingling with the applause that greeted Lukaku's exit from the action.

Clarke, when asked about the response of the Baggies fans to the Nigeria international, said: "I never noticed it as I was too nervous about throwing away a two-goal lead. But with his first touch he had a shot that went just wide. He got good applause for that, and I think the supporters would have been happy to see that go in."

He added: "The Odemwingie thing meant I could never affect what the supporters are going to do. He's part of my squad and we're going to use him.

"He was always going to come back in at some stage. For me it's finished, the incident happened but that seems like a long time ago now. We have to move on and so should everyone else."

Clarke hailed another man-of-the-match performance from Lukaku, who is on a season-long loan from Chelsea. He scored the opening goal from the penalty spot and charged down a clearance from Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for his second.

Clarke said: "Lukaku is in a really rich vein of form. You could see that with his second goal, when you're playing that well you get a little bit of luck. Physically, he's a great specimen, but he has quick feet for a big man. It's been good for us, good for Rom, and probably good for Chelsea as well."

Lukaku insists he can cope with the pressure of being an £18million player - his fee when he joined Chelsea from Anderlecht.

He said: "I don't feel pressure. People ask 'why did he cost that much' but that's just football. Wayne Rooney got bought for more than me and in the first year at Manchester United, he didn't have an easy year.

"I am reading his book at the moment. I am a very big fan of his book. It is very good for a player my age because he went to a big club at the same age as me and I can learn from that."

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