Head coach states six more players could be available for trip to Copenhagen
STEVE Clarke could have up to six players back for Albion’s next Scandinavian assignment at Copenhagen on Wednesday – but insists he won’t rush anyone into playing.
The head coach was without Chris Brunt, Ben Foster, Zoltan Gera, Jonas Olsson, Shane Long and Simon Cox during last night’s 1-0 friendly defeat by Malmo.
Brunt and Foster are carrying minor knocks while Gera is being eased back after missing most of last season through injury.
Olsson, Cox and Long were also left out as they only reported back for pre-season training this week after their involvement in Euro 2012.
All six will be monitored at Albion’s Swedish training base over the next five days to decide whether they will see their first pre-season action at the Danish giants.
Clarke explained: “Chris reported back last week with a little niggle in his calf and missed the first three or four days of pre-season.
“He’s done a little bit of training now but he wasn’t quite ready for Malmo.
“You cut your own throat if you push players too early into pre-season.
“Ben’s situation is similar.
“He had a couple of niggles last week so, rather than risk him, we’ve had Boaz Myhill come back into the club and we know he can do the job.
“We’ve also got young Luke Daniels who we’ll also get a chance to get a look at in the games.
“They can share the load at this moment in time.
“I told the players before last night’s game that the main objective is to get everybody fit and ready to start the season.
“Regarding Zoltan, he’s obviously had a long-term injury.
“Apart from the few games he played last November, he’s been out for 14 or 15 months.
“He’s a little bit further behind the rest but he’s worked with the group everyday and showed good signs of improvement.
“If we can get him some time on the pitch when we play Copenhagen,that would be great.
“If we’ve got to wait until afterwards, that’s what we’ll do.
“We’re certainly not going to rush him.
“Zoltan’s been in the game long enough to know injuries are part and parcel of football and when he’s ready to be on the pitch, he’ll be the first guy there.”
On Albion’s Euro 2012 appearance-makers, Clarke added: “We’ll see how the work goes over the weekend but we won’t push them if we don’t have to.
“We’ve got more games when we return to the UK and there’s plenty of time for them to get minutes on the pitch.”