Club News

Boss turns focus to cup challenge

And Clarke boosted by having Mulumbu available before he heads for DR Congo duty

STEVE Clarke quickly set his sights on starting an FA Cup run at QPR on Saturday (ko 3pm) after today’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham – and hopes to have some of his walking wounded back in action.

The Baggies will be able to call on the services of Youssouf Mulumbu, who returned from a hamstring injury to start against the Cottagers, in the Loftus Road encounter before he jets off after the third-round tie to report for African Nations Cup duty with DR Congo.

And Clarke is keeping his fingers crossed the likes of Jonas Olsson (groin), Steven Reid (shin), Claudio Yacob (hamstring) and Goran Popov (both hamstring) can shake off injuries in time to face the R’s.

“I said when I came here I would try and do well in the cup competitions and I see nothing to change that,” said Clarke.

“I might have to rest one or two players just because that’s the stage of the season we’re at.

“Fingers crossed we’ll get one or two of the injured players back.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure that will happen but it would be good if they did just to lessen the workload on some of the boys who are playing all the time.”

As well as a cup challenge, Clarke has urged his seventh-placed players to make amends in the final 17 games for the three points he feels they dropped against the Cottagers today.

“My aim is to try and have a good cup run and consolidate and build on the first half of the season,” the Baggies boss added.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position.

“I think we’ve thrown away three points today and I’ve asked the players to claw that back somewhere over the course of the season.

“We’ll just keep working from game to game and trying to get as many points as we can.”