Club News

Boss: Striker gamble paid off

And Clarke gives his take on Fortune red card

STEVE Clarke handed the plaudits to strike trio Romelu Lukaku, Shane Long and Marc-Antoine Fortune in today’s thrilling 3-0 win at Southampton.

All three players got on the scoresheet at St Mary’s Stadium and proved a constant menace to the Saints’ back line.

And Clarke revealed using all three strikers from the start is something the Baggies had been working on in training this week after the three combined well during the second half of last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

“We used the three to chase the game against Newcastle last week and it worked really well,” said the Albion boss.

“I was a little bit short of midfielders this week and, although it was little bit of a gamble going away to such a difficult place, it works out well for us.

“The shape of the team behind the front three was good.

“But the front three were a handful.

“The movement was good, all of them individually were a threat and there was some good combination play.

“Some of the football we played going forward was excellent.

“Lukaku’s not bad!

“Marco Fortune did very well and Shane Long was good.

“My front three were excellent today.

“Not just offensively, where they caused Southampton all sorts of problems, defensively as well.

“Everyone did their jobs for the team, everyone was chasing back at the right time and closing the spaces on the pitch.

“It was a good all round performance by everyone.”

Unfortunately, Fortune blotted his copy book in the 70th minute when he was sent-off for pushing Gaston Ramirez in the face after the Uruguayan elbowed Shane Long – and was also red carded.

But Clarke was quick to point out it was out of character for the former Celtic forward, who now faces a three-match ban.

“I feel a little bit sorry for him,” he added.

“It was a push and he caught the boy in the face.

“The rules of the game are it is a red card and we have to live with that.

“Marco is not a violent person.

“He’s such a nice guy and has been patient all season waiting on his chance.

“He’s had his chance in recent weeks and has done really well for me.

“I’m disappointed for Marco.”