Club News

Internationals get clean bill of health

But Reid remains doubt while Thomas has minor op

STEVE Clarke has given his returning international stars – including Belgium's Romelu Lukaku - a clean bill of health ahead of Saturday’s trip to Fulham (ko 3pm).

And the Baggies boss is hopeful Steven Reid will recover from the hamstring injury that forced him off in the 2-0 win over Everton almost a fortnight ago in time for the Craven Cottage encounter.

But Jerome Thomas will be forced to sit out action for at least another fortnight after undergoing a minor knee operation.

“All the international boys are back and were all outside training this morning – and looking good,” said Clarke, who today welcomed back 15 senior pros from action with their countries.

“I’ve got a doubt over Steven Reid, who came off with a hamstring injury in the last game.

“I remain hopeful, more than confident, over Steven.

“He’s a good professional and knows his body well.

“When I ask him the question he’ll give me an honest answer.

“But I won’t ask that question until later tomorrow.

“The only other one missing is Jerome Thomas, who has had a lot of niggling injuries over the course of pre-season and has just had a minor operation on his knee, so he’ll be out for another couple of weeks.

“Other than that we’re in good shape.

“Some of the internationals have got good minutes on the pitch they’ll have needed, and were maybe unfortunate not to get here before they went away, so that’s good.

“Some of them had good results, some not so good.

“But they come back to us physically in good shape and, by the time we get out there on Saturday, they’ll be in good shape mentally as well.”

Clarke is now hoping Thomas’ ‘clean-up’ operation will help him draw a line under the spate of niggling injuries that have plagued him since the start of pre-season.

“Jerome had a fantastic first week of pre-season,” the Albion chief added.

“And just as we were leaving to go on the tour to Sweden he pulled a thigh muscle, which set him back a little bit.

“Then he came out and joined us on tour and played a part in the game against Copenhagen.

“He then picked up another injury and he’s just gone from one to the other.

“The idea now is to try and settle all these little niggles down and basically start again – and get him back in the squad, because he’s a talent.

“The more talented players you can have in the squad the happier you are as a coach.”