05:00 1st September 2013
And Clarke believes he can help youngster Berahino fulfil potential
STEVE Clarke has made it his mission to help two strikers at either end of the age spectrum fulfil their ambitions this season.
The Baggies boss this week welcomed back 34-year-old Nicolas Anelka from compassionate leave as he aims to finish an illustrious career in style.
Meanwhile, Clarke believes he is the right man to bring the best out of 20-year-old Saido Berahino, following his sensational League Cup hat-trick against Newport on his full Albion debut in midweek.
Both players will be hoping to play a part in today’s Barclays Premier League home clash with Swansea (ko 1.30pm).
“Nicolas is happy to be here and he’s delighted to try and help this team,” said Clarke.
“He wants to finish his career well.
“When he was in China he didn’t want his career to fizzle out.
“He didn’t want to finish the season sitting on the bench for Juventus.
“He wanted to come back to the Premier League, show everyone he’s a good player and finish his career on a high.
“Hopefully we can help him to do that.”
Berahino enjoyed a successful two-month loan spell at Peterborough in the Championship last term before being struck down by injury.
Clarke is now hoping he can kick on as he looks to make the step up to top-flight football.
“I think I showed last year with young [Romelu] Lukaku that I know how to handle young players, how to bring them through and get the best out of them,” he added.
“Hopefully I can do the same with Saido.
“You have to understand when they’re good and have the confidence to play, and you have to understand when it is more difficult for them.
“But I like to think with my experience, my background – I worked with the youth team at Chelsea and I understand the mentality of young players – I can help Saido progress and become a better player this season.
“I’m not going to over-hype him.
“At the moment he is good enough to be in my squad, which is where he is.
“From last season that’s a step forward because last season he went out to Peterborough on loan and did well there.
“That’s when I had half an idea that he had a chance to become a player.
“He picked up a nasty little injury that put him out.
“But I watched him working all summer. I didn’t go on holiday much this summer, I spent some days at the training ground and every time I came in I saw Saido outside working and running.
“He joined us in pre-season and was great.
“He certainly deserved his appearance in the team the other night and showed the public he has got a future in the game.”