Head coach drawing comfort from second shut-out in four days at Barnsley
STEVE Clarke is encouraged by how his defensive unit is shaping up after Albion recorded a second clean sheet in four days at Oakwell.
The head coach was disappointed that his much-changed team could not convert their superiority into more chances in the goalless friendly at Barnsley.
But Clarke is drawing comfort from the fact his Albion side, who equalled the club’s Barclays Premier League shut-out record last season by keeping ten clean sheets, have limited the opposition to just one goal in three games.
“It was a competitive friendly and a good workout,” said the head coach.
“The fitness aspect was good but you could tell it was a friendly!
“But we passed the ball well at times.
“We also defended well and the clean sheet was a big positive.
“The disappointment was maybe with the possession we had, that we didn’t create enough chances to get the goal that would have won the game for us.”
Clarke also explained his reasons for resting the likes of Peter Odemwingie, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Steven Reid, Youssouf Mulumbu, Liam Ridgewell and Gareth McAuley.
“I think the ones I left out played the majority of the game in midweek,” he added.
“We travelled back from Denmark early on Thursday, the players then had a light training session yesterday and it’s my job to be responsible and make sure they don’t pick up silly injuries.
“That’s why we decided to go with a lot of changes.
“You could tell from the effort and application of the players that the changes didn’t take anything away from the team.”
Clarke also revealed Chris Brunt is edging closer to fitness and was pleased to see Ben Foster get his first pre-season run-out against Barnsley.
“Chris is coming on,” he said.
“He’s got a little niggle in his calf and we don’t want to force the issue.
“So if it’s going to take an extra couple of days, that’s what it will take.
“He’s already tried to come back once, when we were in Sweden, and it just tightened up.
“We sent him back home early for treatment and we’re not going to rush him.
“But he will be ready for the start of the season.”
Clarke added: “Ben’s had a few niggles during pre-season but I’m really pleased with all my goalkeepers.
“Boaz Myhill, Luke Daniels and now Ben have all had 90 minutes in the last three games and they’ve all done really well.”