And Clarke's joint-No.2 praises 'the group'
KEITH Downing insisted tonight’s 4-2 Capital One Cup win at Yeovil justified Steve Clarke ringing the changes to his team.
The Hawthorns boss brought ten new faces into his starting XI at Huish Park compared to his original line-up at Spurs on Saturday – and Albion showed their strength in depth as they came from behind to book their place in Thursday’s third-round draw.
Former Baggie Reuben Reid’s double sandwiched Chris Brunt’s goal-of-the-season contender and Shane Long’s first of the night to make it 2-2.
But Craig Dawson’s 73rd-minute effort – his first competitive goal for the club – and Long’s 81st minute strike eventually secured victory over the battling League One leaders.
“We knew with the start they’ve had in the league it was going to be a difficult one – and we’re pleased to get through it,” said joint-assistant head coach Downing.
“We’ve got bumps and bruises and had six or seven players unavailable.
“The medical staff are working hard for Saturday but there isn’t too much serious with anybody.
“It was wise for them to stay at home - and we have a strong squad.
“I think it epitomises what we have had at the club in the last 15 to 18 months.
“We have a very strong set of players and we call it ‘the group’.
“We don’t call it a first XI or second XI.
"We've got some strength in depth, some players needed a game tonight and I thought they stepped up to the plate really well.
“We all wanted to progress and make sure we went through to the next round for the guys we left at home.
“We were pleased with the contribution from everyone today.
"At 2-2 Boaz Myhill made a couple of important saves to keep us in the tie and overall we're pleased to overcome a very difficult match."
Downing also reserved special praise for goalscorers Brunt, who after an injury-interrupted pre-season got 90 minutes under his belt, and Long, who bagged his first goals of the season.
“Chris has ability to score that type of goal,” he added.
“He has a lovely left foot.
“I’m really pleased for Shane.
"His work-rate epitomises the club at the moment.”
And the more than 1,200 Baggies fans who made the long trip to Somerset saw summer signing Markus Rosenberg make a promising full debut in English football.
“He can play anywhere across the front three,” said Downing.
“He came in late and missed a good three to four weeks of pre-season.
“He might be down in terms of match practice but you’ve seen signs tonight he has some quality.
“We’re pleased with Markus. He has a great attitude to training and he just needs some games to get himself up to match speed.”