Boss relishing 'tasty' derby encounter in front of Hawthorns hordesSTEVE Clarke has urged his players to use tomorrow’s ‘tasty’ derby clash with Villa (ko 5.30pm) as a big step towards finishing as top dogs in the West Midlands for the second successive season.
The seventh-placed Baggies host their 18th-placed neighbours with 14 points separating the two teams after 22 games.
And Clarke believes a passionate home support will give his men the lift they need after a run of five games without a win in all competitions.
“We’re looking forward to the game,” said the Albion boss.
“I’ve got a squad of players that are hungry and raring to go again at the weekend just to put right a few wrongs from the recent results.
“The motivation is that’s it’s a local derby, you’re playing for your supporters, and the bragging rights.
“We want to finish as top dogs in the West Midlands.
“We have all those things, plus the fact the performances recently have been okay but we haven’t got the results.
“So we need to put everything right this weekend.
“It wouldn’t matter who the game was this weekend, it is a game we’d be looking to inject some impetus to get our season going again after not a great run of results.
“It wouldn’t matter who we were playing, the fact it’s Villa probably gives it a bit more spice.
“Our fans at home always play a big part and I’m sure they won’t need too much motivation on Saturday.
“I enjoyed the first derby; it was a good atmosphere.
“The shoes on the other foot now.
“We’re the home team and we’re the team that will have our supporters behind us giving us everything.
“It should be a tasty game.”
But Clarke has warned his troops not to underestimate a Villa side who are one game away from a League Cup final at Wembley if they can overcome a two-goal deficit in the second leg of their semi-final with League Two Bradford on Tuesday.
“They’ve had good moments in the season and are one game away from a Wembley cup final, so they must have had some good moments.
“It’s not all doom and gloom for them.
“I’ve seen them play on a number of occasions and they always play with energy and enthusiasm, and it’s going to be a really good game on Saturday evening.
“They can’t afford to allow their League Cup semi-final to be a distraction for them – no chance.”