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Clarke ready for Saints to march in

10 August 2013

Head coach looking forward after Bologna victory

STEVE Clarke immediately turned his attention to next week’s Barclays Premier League opener with Southampton after this afternoon's 2-0 triumph over Bologna in the club’s final pre-season friendly. 

First-half strikes from Markus Rosenberg and Nicolas Anelka – who scored their fourth and seventh goals of pre-season respectively – helped the Baggies cruise to a home win over the Serie A outfit.

But the head coach insists the real business starts when the Baggies host the Saints at The Hawthorns on Saturday (ko 3pm). 

“Today was a good workout and it’s nice to finish pre-season with a win and a clean sheet,” said Clarke.

“There were a couple of goals for our strikers, too, which is always good.

“It’s a shame Shane Long was given offside when he scored because it would have been nice for all three of them to score.

“If we’d lost today, I’d be saying it’s not about momentum and it doesn’t matter because it’s a pre-season friendly.

“I’d be right too. The business starts for real next weekend.

“Southampton come here having invested heavily over the summer.

“They’ve boosted their squad after a brilliant first season back up.

“They were comfortable in the league from January onwards last year and It’s going to be a tough test for us.

“But I think you saw today that we look in good shape.

“We’re looking forward to a good game.”

Clarke believes his side will be ready for next week’s game but admits losing nine players to international duty is not ideal.  

“Unfortunately, we lose a lot of the squad,” added Clarke.

“We will be fine tuning after a good pre-season.

“We’ll give the boys a rest at the start of the week.

“Come Saturday, we should have everything right and spot on for the game.”

The Hawthorns chief cleared up the absence of Chris Brunt and Steven Reid from today’s game.   

“Chris had a niggle so I left him out," added Clarke.

“Steven's on a different programme to the others.

"We try to protect him a little bit and he played a full game last week.”

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