Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

More to come from Odemwingie - Clarke

Peter Odemwingie, pictured, is part of West Brom coach Steve Clarke's plans for this season

The reintegration of West Brom wantaway Peter Odemwingie is continuing with manager Steve Clarke insisting the striker will have a part to play this season.

Having travelled with the squad to Anfield on Monday night, the Nigerian sat in the stand to watch the Baggies' surprise 2-0 win over Liverpool, their first victory since Boxing Day. Clarke, however, said the 31-year-old, who was disciplined by the club after trying to force a deadline-day move to QPR, was involved with the team in the pre-match build-up.

Clarke had suggested prior to the Liverpool match that Odemwingie might be involved for the first time since January 19, but insisted there was nothing sinister in his eventual decision to leave him out. "It wasn't an additional punishment and he was involved, that is why he was there," he said.

Clarke added: "He was in the dressing room, he was delighted for his team-mates and was there to support them and help them. It is all part of what being part of a squad is about. Peter makes his contribution and will make a contribution in the season going forward."

West Brom spent most of the match pursuing and pressing their hosts and they were successful enough to still be in the game with 10 minutes to go after goalkeeper Ben Foster had saved Steven Gerrard's penalty.

Defender Gareth McAuley's header and Romelu Lukaku's 90th-minute strike snatched victory but Clarke felt the platform had been established by his midfield.

"It is the first time in a number of weeks I've had the luxury of being able to pick Mulumbu, Claudio Yacob and James Morrison in the same midfield," he said. "When they are together and everyone is doing their jobs properly we are a good team and deserve to be in the top eight."

Clarke admitted selecting that trio restricted his options up front but was pleased with the contribution of both Shane Long, who started, and Lukaku.

"They are a good combination. When they play together they play well but when I have my three midfield players in there it is difficult to play both," he said. "Sometimes I have to make difficult decisions and in recent weeks Rom, for a 19-year-old, has been carrying a lot of weight up front.

"So it was nice to give him a breather and the chance to come into the game to do what he did. Rom did well but he got the benefit of the hard work of Shane Long, who put in a hell of a shift."

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