Club News

Clarke: We have to plan without Rom

But Baggies boss insists he'd love to have on-loan striker back next season

STEVE Clarke says he would love to have Romelu Lukaku on loan at The Hawthorns again next season – but admits the Baggies have to start planning for life without him.

Albion’s 13-goal top scorer has five more games to run in his season-long loan before returning to parent club Chelsea.

And Clarke reiterated it is up to Blues where Lukaku spends next term.

“It’s a season-long loan and at the end of the season he goes back to his parent club,” said the Baggies boss.

“I’m 99 per cent sure he’ll do pre-season with Chelsea and then they’ll decide if they want to let him back out again next season.

“That’s how I read the situation.

“We have to develop and build the squad without knowing whether there is a chance of Romelu coming back, unless Chelsea come to us at the end of the season and say you can have him, which I would very, very much doubt.

“I’d love him to stay here – but we have to plan for life without him."

He added: “He loves it here and I think he’s really happy here.

“All his comments throughout the season have been positive about the club.

“He’s been nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year, which tells you he’s had a good season.”