Club News

Boss: Lukaku decision paid off

And Clarke praises strike partner Long

STEVE Clarke was delighted to see Romelu Lukaku justify his decision to hand the striker his full Albion debut by scoring the winner in today’s 1-0 victory over Reading.

The Baggies boss also explained his thinking behind dropping in-form Shane Long to the bench against his former club to make way for the on-loan Chelsea man.

And he was pleased to see the Ireland international come on in the 65th minute and tee up Lukaku for his second Albion goal six minutes later.

“We got the result,” said Clarke.

“Shane’s been terrific for me. I’ve sat here and said that on several occasions.

“It was a difficult decision to leave him out but I just felt Lukaku had been very patient waiting for his chance from the bench.

“I also felt I was always asking Shane to do the horrible shift.

“In the first hour everyone runs and chases and the defenders are still fresh.

“I thought maybe it would benefit Shane coming on as a fresh player for a change.

“Thankfully for the team and me it worked out.”

Clarke added: “When I took the job I said I wouldn’t be afraid to make the big decisions – big decisions that might seem strange.

“But it’s a job I have to do.

“I’ve got some fantastic forwards in Shane, Romelu and Markus hasn’t had too much time on the pitch.

“Marco Fortune didn’t get any time on the pitch and he’s been really good for me.

“Peter was unavailable today so I’ve got lots of forwards.

“I’ve got to try and use them wisely and get the best out of them.”

The Albion chief also revealed adopting a 4-4-2 formation is something he will look to use again in the future after seeing it pay off in the final 25 minutes against the Royals.

“I had two strikers together at one point today – but not for very long,” he said.

“When I decided to make the change in the game I went 4-4-2 and it’s something I will use in the future.

“It’s up to me to read the game and decide which games to use it in.”