Club News

Clarke: I'm not lying

Boss happy with changes he made against Stoke and says it shows faith he has in squad

STEVE Clarke insists the six changes he made to his starting XI in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Stoke was just another example of the faith he has in his squad.

The Baggies boss drafted in Steven Reid, Goran Popov, Graham Dorrans, Markus Rosenberg, Zoltan Gera and Shane Long.

The men to make way were Billy Jones, who missed out through illness, and Liam Ridgewell, Chris Brunt, Peter Odemwingie, James Morrison and Romelu Lukaku, who all dropped to the bench, for what was Albion’s third game in eight days – and followed two long away trips to Sunderland and Swansea.

“The selection process over the course of the three games in a week was to try to freshen the players up, not to ask too many of them to play the three games in such a short space of time, especially with the travelling involved,” said Clarke.

“I was pleased with the changes.

“I thought the boys that came in did well in what was not a pretty game of football.

“The changes are there to be made, I can't keep saying I've got a good squad then pick the same players every week.

“Then I become a liar. I can't tell the players I trust them all the same and then not do that. It was a week to use the squad.”

The Baggies now face a difficult encounter at Arsenal on Saturday (ko 3pm), with Arsene Wenger's Gunners, who are five points and as many positions behind fifth-placed Albion, looking to close the gap.

“It won't be even more tough than Saturday - just a tough game,” Clarke added.

“It's a difficult place to go. 

“But we'll go there full of confidence even on the back of two defeats - that's what we are trying to instil in the players.

“It hasn't been a good few days but we will look to get back on track as soon as possible.

“We will show the same character.

“We could lose the next game as it's a difficult away one but we won't keep losing because I have too many good players.

“I have told the players they should be pleased where they are and not to be too down on themselves.

“Be disappointed we lost the game as we are professionals - but I have no complaints.”