STEVE Clarke has revealed Peter Odemwingie has mixed feelings about his omission from Nigeria’s squad for next month’s African Cup of Nations – but insists the striker is mentally in a ‘good place’.
The head coach has been a strong advocate of his players appearing for their country – regardless of how it affects their club availability.
But Odemwingie will be eligible for all of Albion’s January fixtures after all following Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi’s decision not to select him in a 32-man provisional squad for the South Africa-based tournament.
Clarke has spoken to the forward, who played the full 90 minutes of Saturday’s vital win over Norwich, about his international omission.
He claims Odemwingie is disappointed to miss out but, at the same time, enthused by the prospect of helping Albion build on their excellent first half of the campaign.
“Peter made himself available for Nigeria and they chose not to pick him,” said Clarke.
“He is obviously slightly disappointed that they have made that choice but he is delighted he can stay and help us.
“I have spoken to Peter. It is the choice of the Nigerian coach and he respects that choice.
“But he’s looking forward to helping us get a few more points instead of going away.
“He is disappointed but it is part and parcel of football and he is fine. He is in a good place.”
Clarke faced a nice selection headache on Saturday following Ben Foster’s recovery from a double hernia operation.
He opted to hand the former Manchester United keeper an instant recall in place of Boaz Myhill, who had played the previous seven games.
Clarke admitted it was a tough call but said it was the opportunity to have to make such big decisions that drove him on to become a head coach.
“I spoke to Boaz about my decision to recall Ben,” said Clarke.
“It is my choice and Boaz has nothing to be angry with himself about in his performances.
“He can be angry with me for leaving him out, but it was my choice – it is why I have waited so long to be in this chair, so I can make those choices.
“Boaz has already made a massive contribution and I am sure he will make more contributions.
“But this was just the decision I felt was the right one for the team in this particular game.
“Ben has been working hard to get himself fit again and I felt he was fit enough to go back into the team.”