Club News

Boss on Anelka and strikers

Clarke confident Vydra, Long and Rosenberg will do the job at Everton

STEVE Clarke is happy he has the strikers to trouble Everton tomorrow (ko 3pm) in the absence of Nicolas Anelka.

The Baggies boss was already preparing for the Goodison Park trip without the former France international due to injury – before he was granted compassionate leave following the death of close friend and agent Eric Manasse.

And he has been buoyed by the form of new loan signing Matej Vydra in training as he pushes Shane Long and Markus Rosenberg for a starting place in attack against the Toffees.

“Nicolas lost a close friend and agent over the weekend when he died suddenly,” said Clarke.

“He went to see Richard [Garlick] yesterday and indicated he wasn’t in a good place.

“I went in and had a very brief chat with him – and he wasn’t in a good place.

“So, the club have decided to give him a bit of time to go away and think about it and get himself in a better place.

“That’s as much as there is to say about the situation.

“It wasn’t dramatic, there was no big bust up, he didn’t storm out of the training ground, it was just a boy who was really quite upset."

And, quizzed at his pre-match press conference if Anelka had mentioned the word retire in his conversation with him, Clarke added: “When you’re in a bad place those thoughts can enter your mind and I’m not going to deny he used that word in the conversation we had with him.

“But we’ve given him time to go away and think about it and I don’t think we could do anymore in the circumstances.

“He was really down.

“The fortunate thing is that I was preparing without Nicolas Anelka this weekend anyway because he was injured.

“He had not trained with us this week because he got a kick last weekend against Southampton.”

Vydra will be vying for his full Barclays Premier League debut after making a seven-minute cameo as a substitute for Long against the Saints, while Rosenberg was also restricted to seven minutes last weekend.

“I’ve got good players up front," said Clarke.

“Shane Long was a mainstay of the team last season and he will be again this season.

“I’ve brought in Matej Vydra and he’s been electric in training.

“He’s done really well and I’m really pleased with him.

“Markus Rosenberg had a great pre-season and he’s looking forward to showing everyone he can cut it in the Premier League.

“I’ve got three forwards for tomorrow who have a lot to prove and are desperate to prove it.

“So, at the moment, in that position, I think I’m okay.”