And Clarke's thoughts on players facing former clubSTEVE Clarke admits Zoltan Gera has been ‘unlucky’ to be left out of his last two Barclays Premier League starting line-ups – but has revealed the reasons behind his decision.
The Baggies midfielder made his long-awaited return to competitive action from injury with a wonder strike in the opening-day 3-0 win over Liverpool.
But he has since had to watch from the bench as Albion built on their positive start with a 1-1 draw at Spurs and 2-0 victory over Everton.
Gera is now hoping to make the starting XI against his former club, Fulham, tomorrow (ko 3pm).
Clarke joked: “That will teach him to score a goal like that!
“He’s very unlucky.
“If I’m honest, he exceeded my expectations over pre-season and he put himself in a position where I thought he was ready to play in the first game.
“I thought he would play a lot of it on adrenaline, which he did because it was such a big occasion for him, and the week after in training he dipped a little bit, which I half expected.
“Since then I’ve tried to look after him and he’s trained well.
“He has been away on international duty, he’s represented his country twice and the little injury scare he had wasn’t a big issue and he’s back in pushing for selection again, which makes my job difficult.”
Clarke was quizzed at his pre-match press conference over his attitude towards fielding players against their old clubs – but kept his cards close to his chest in reply.
“Jose Mourinho used to leave them out when they played against their former club so there are mixed views,” he added.
“Some people will go back and be determined to do really well against their former club, others might go back and be really ‘easy-oasy’ and pally.
“I’ll have a chat with Zolly and see how he is.”