Club News

Boss happy with 'flexible' forwards

And boss says Forest show is good platform

STEVE Clarke believes the strikers he now has at his disposal will give him the firepower to switch formations easily throughout the season as he prepares for Saturday’s top-flight opener with Liverpool (ko 3pm).

The Baggies boss has alternated between a 4-4-2 line-up and a 4-3-3 set-up throughout pre-season – and insists flexibility is the key to success for Albion this term.

He already had Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long, Zoltan Gera, Yassine El Ghanassy and Marc-Antoine Fortune available to him.

And last week he added loan star Romelu Lukaku and Markus Rosenberg to his forward ranks, giving him seven frontline forwards to select from.

“Competition for places is going to be fierce – that’s what you’re after,” said Clarke.

“If I’ve learnt anything over the years it’s you can’t have enough good strikers in your squad.

“Ultimately, you have to score goals to survive; you have to score goals to succeed.

“I think with the forwards we’ve got in the squad at this moment in time we’ve got great options and great competition for places, and they should all spur each other on to hopefully get a really good amount of goals for the club this year.

“There are a lot of good players fighting for those places, whether we go with two strikers or three is up for debate, and will depend on certain games and the opposition.”

He added: “It’s down to the players now – they have to put me under pressure to pick them.

“In the modern game you have to be adaptable, flexible, and able to play in different positions.

“I think, with the forward options we have, that’s there.

“I would like to keep all the strikers, whether that’s possible or not I don’t know.

“But you don’t know how people are going to react to the competition for places, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Clarke was delighted with his team’s first-half performance in their final pre-season game at Nottingham Forest, where they roared into a 2-0 lead within 17 minutes.

And he hopes that is a sign of things to come ahead of his first competitive match as Baggies boss.

“That was our best 45 minutes of football over the course of pre-season,” he said.

“People saw how we wanted to pass and move the ball and create chances by passing it into good areas.

“Hopefully now we can build on that performance and not rest on it, that’s the main thing.”