Clarke confident his men have the tools to handle PottersSTEVE Clarke has no doubts his men have the tools they need to deal with Stoke tomorrow (ko 3pm).
The Hawthorns boss is expecting a tough test against an 11th-placed Potters team that lie three places and ten points below the Baggies - but have only lost twice on their own patch this term.
And he believes his players have what it takes to combat whatever City throw at them, while playing to their own strengths as they look to repeat last season’s 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium.
“All the games in the Premier League are physical in some way,” said Clarke.
“It’s a physical league, it’s a good league, and it’s a competitive league.
“Stoke have their way of playing, very successfully.
“They’ve been established in the Premier League for a long time now and Tony [Pulis] has done a great job there.
“It’s always a difficult game and, if you go back to the game we had at The Hawthorns earlier in the season, it was a close, competitive game, and unfortunately for us on the day Stoke got the break and managed to get a 1-0 win out of a game that was drifting towards a 0-0.
“We’ll go there and try and do what we did last season with West Brom, when we scored late to get three points.
“That’s what we’ll try and do again this season.
“We’ve concentrated on ourselves, the way we work and the way we want to play.
“Every week we touch on the opposition, we speak a little bit about them.
“But the main aim for me is to make sure we play as well as we can play and if we do that hopefully the result will be positive.
“There are no doubts about this team – this team can battle as well.
“That’s what I like about this group of players.
“If they have to play football to win the game they can do that.
“If they have to dig in and battle to get a result they can do that as well.”
It will be the second time Clarke has come face to face with Pulis this week after spending Wednesday night together at a League Managers’ Association function.
And the Baggies boss revealed talk of tomorrow’s game was off the agenda.
“We got there quite early, sat down, and had a quick chat where we agreed not to speak about the game this weekend - we spoke about other things,” he quipped.
A victory in the Potteries would also keep Albion firmly in touch with the top-six and Clarke has urged his players to finish as high up the league as possible in a bid to entice new players for next season.
“I think the closer you are to the top of the table, people look at it and think West Brom finished in the top half, they must be a good team and have possibilities to improve again, which is always what you look to do year in, year out," he said.
“I want to improve the team for next season, I want to be a better team than we were this season.
“And, if finishing high up the table attracts better players, then obviously we want to finish as high as we can.”