Club News

Brunt boost while Liam limps out

And boss explains reasons for absent trio

STEVE Clarke highlighted the return of skipper Chris Brunt from a calf injury in Albion’s final pre-season game as a major boost ahead of the new Barclays Premier League campaign.

But the Baggies boss revealed he now has a doubt over Liam Ridgewell after he limped off at half time with a thigh problem, just eight days before the big kick-off.

And Clarke also explained the absence of trio Graham Dorrans, Jerome Thomas and Simon Cox from the City Ground proceedings.

“It was good to see Chris back,” he said.

“He has had a problematic pre-season.

“He’s had nothing too major but a lot of little niggles and we made a conscious decision to take him out of the firing line and let the injury settle.

“We’d done that and he’s trained now for two or three days.

“He’s quite a bit behind in terms of physical work with the team but we’ll try to get him up to speed as quickly as we can.

“Fortunately for him, because it’s a great honour, he’s been called up by Northern Ireland and hopefully he will get some minutes on the pitch on Wednesday, which will actually be beneficial for us this time.”

Clarke added: “Liam just before half-time felt that his thigh had tightened up a bit and there was no need for risks.

“We took him off straight away and brought on Billy Jones.

“It’s too early to tell but I’d be surprised if he missed the Liverpool game.

“I think the fact that we took him off at half-time should put any long-term problems away - that’s the medical advice anyway.”

Cox remains the subject of intense media speculation about his future and Clarke felt it better to leave him out.

Thomas is recovering from a niggle he picked up the day before Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at Walsall, while Dorrans was missing due to family reasons.

“It’s been well-documented with Simon that there are bids in for him,” said Clarke.

“It’s taking time to complete the process but I think it’s probably better if it happens quicker rather than slower for Simon.

“He didn’t make the squad because he’s got other things on his mind.

“Jerome was going to play in the Walsall game but he picked up a little niggle the day before and he wasn’t ready for last night.

“It’s a private matter with Graham.

"It’s a difficult time for him and his family, which we understand.

“All our thoughts are with him and all we ask as a club, and all I’m asking as a person, is for people to respect the boy’s privacy because it’s a really difficult time for him.”