Club News

Clarke: Keepers are key

Head coach determined to build on Liverpool win

STEVE Clarke believes goalkeepers can be as important as goalscorers following Ben Foster’s incredible performance in Albion’s 2-0 triumph at Anfield last week. 

The 29-year-old’s man-of-the-match display set up the Baggies’ first win in seven games as he denied Steven Gerrard from the penalty spot before Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku struck to secure the win.

Last season’s Player of the Year missed seven games prior to Christmas with a groin problem but Clarke insists his first-choice stopper is now back to his best.

“Goalkeepers are crucial,” said Clarke. 

“All of the top teams have goalkeepers who can win you games. 

“Goalkeepers can win you games just like strikers. 

“A save can be just as important as a match-winning goal. 

“Ben's got that in his locker.

“He had a good start to the season, then he had his injury problems, which probably took longer to get over than you think. 

“You get him back, you get him fit, you get him in the team and maybe he's slowly getting back to his peak. 

“His performance at Anfield should give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the games this season.”

Clarke hopes his side’s victory on Merseyside will restore the confidence which saw Albion placed third in the Barclays Premier League after 13 games.  

“Coming off the back of what has been such a difficult run, it was a big result for us,” said Clarke.

“I’ve been telling the players for the last six weeks that we were just one win away. When you get one win, you can kick on again and that’s the platform we gave ourselves at the start of the season.

“That allowed us to go on and get 33 points before Christmas, which was a big effort.

“We were always one performance away from getting back on track. 

“However, one result doesn't get away from the fact that it's been a difficult six or seven weeks with not too many positives.

“My biggest feeling after the Liverpool game was that I was really pleased for the players. 

“They'd had a difficult run but their effort and application had been the same. 

“We were not getting the bounce of the ball or the breaks. 

“We had another bad decision against us - the penalty decison - but Ben saved it and from there we go and win the game.

"We're hopeful that can kick-start us again to get our season going because we know we can still have a really good season and achieve good things.”