Club News

Boss rules out key quartet

And Clarke has doubts over five other players ahead of FA Cup clash

STEVE Clarke has been forced to rule a key quartet of players out of tomorrow’s FA Cup clash at QPR (ko 3pm) – and has doubts over five others.

Jonas Olsson (groin), Steven Reid (shin), Claudio Yacob and Goran Popov (both hamstring) all remain sidelined.

But the Baggies boss is hopeful he will be able to name a strong team against the R’s in the third-round tie.

“The team that takes the field tomorrow will reflect the tough Christmas period,” said Clarke.

“We have a number of players out injured and another five doubtful.

“But we’ll take a look at them in training today, see how they are, and put out as strong a team as we can on the day because it’s a competition we want to do well in.”

Clarke was also asked at his pre-match media conference about a small section of fans’ booing the team at half-time and full-time of the 2-1 home defeat by Fulham on New Year’s Day.

And he commented on the negative reaction from a minority of supporters towards skipper Chris Brunt when he was substituted in the 84th minute of what was his fourth game in ten days.

“It was disappointing,” he admitted.

“I think the way we’ve played at home this year has been fantastic.

“We’ve approached every game really well and given the fans a lot to shout about at home.

“We did let ourselves down in the first half on New Year’s Day and it wasn’t to the standard or the level we’ve strived to achieve this year, so you can maybe understand at half-time that the crowd were disappointed.

“It’s normal and we were disappointed as well.

“But I think in the second half we put about it and tried to put it right.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t our day and the reaction of the crowd at the end I don’t think really reflected the effort the players put into the game.

“We never said we were going to be unbeaten through the season.

“We’re a team that has to work really hard to get every three points we get.

"I don't think there is any reason or cause for the fans to have a go at the team after the way they've played, especially in the home games this year.

"The players go out there and try to give their best every week, sometimes it doesn't happen - that's the nature of football.

"You don't have a divine right to go on the pitch and be better than the opposition.

“The home form has been excellent this year.

“There has been a big turnaround from last season when the home form wasn’t so good.

“This year the home form has been great and on most Saturday’s we’ve sent the fans home proud of their team.

“We didn’t do that last game and the fans reacted in a certain way.

“But it’s not all the fans, it’s only certain people.

“It’s normally the minority that get carried away.

“Maybe we’ve set ourselves big expectations here and now we have to live up to them.”

He added: “I think it’s disappointing when the crowd single out any person.

“But there was just a general disappointment from the crowd at half-time and full-time.

“Listening back to the game, there was a reaction when Chris was substituted - and that’s not fair.

“That was Chris’ fourth game in ten days and he was one of the few players who’d been asked to play all the games.

“He tries as hard as he always does.

“Everybody gives 100 per cent for the club and it’s always disappointing when the fans single out one player.”