23:49 18th July 2013
And boss delighted to see strikers old and new flourishing
STEVE Clarke described tonight’s pre-season trip opener against Hannover 96 as the ‘perfect workout’.
The Baggies boss fielded a strong starting XI and gave every player a run-out – making eight changes just past the hour-mark – in a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Former Manchester United forward Mame Biram Diouf opened the scoring on 28 before Markus Rosenberg got on the scoresheet for the second game running to make it 1-1 at half-time.
But an unfortunate Craig Dawson own goal handed the Bundesliga outfit victory at Gleisdorf’s Solar Stadion.
“It was a perfect workout,” said Clarke.
“We got a good 60 minutes into most of them.
"James [Morrison] and Graham [Dorrans] stayed on a bit longer which was a bit of a risk at this stage but I didn’t want to put too many of the young players on too early.
“You saw later in the game when I played a couple of the young boys out of position, it doesn’t really help the rhythm of the team.
“But for 65 to 70 minutes it was pleasing.
“Hannover are good but they are a little bit ahead of us in terms of their preparation
“They start on August 10 and I think that was their eighth game in pre-season, whereas for our boys it was the second – but they only played 45 minutes each in the first game, which was just a training session really.
“The goal we scored was a really good goal and something we did a little bit of work on in training, with some good combinations.
“The disappointing thing is we lost the first goal due to a couple of sloppy passes at the back.
“A lot of that is down to fatigue - you try and be a little bit too clever when you’re fatigued
“The second goal was just a deflection from the edge of the box.
“But like last pre-season, we don’t look at the result, we look at what we get from the game, and by and large I’m very pleased.”
And the Baggies boss was delighted to see his strikers - old and new - make a big impression on the game.
“Markus scored in a friendly last week,” he added.
“He did so again tonight, and throughout his career he has scored goals, so there is no reason why he can't continue to do that with us.
“Any goalscorer will tell you that they will have a run where it doesn't go for you.
“He didn't get enough minutes on the pitch last season but when he did he gave it everything for the team – and that’s important.
“He goes in where it hurts - he's a goalscorer and goalscorers go in where it hurts.
“Nicolas showed some good touches – he brings quality.
“His touches on the ball are good.
"He rarely gives the ball away, and he always finds a team-mate with a pass.
“As he gets fitter and stronger he will get sharper and score goals.”