Clarke also explains Anelka and Anichebe absence
STEVE Clarke wants Saido Berahino to be given time to grow after his young striker again grabbed the headlines by coming off the bench to break the deadlock in today’s win over Crystal Palace.
Clarke’s post-match press conference was littered with questions about the 20-year-old’s rise to prominence and whether he is ready for full international honours.
The head coach admitted his was delighted with the England Under-21 international’s progress after his second Barclays Premier League goal set up the 2-0 victory.
But Clarke has warned against too much pressure being put on the Academy graduate’s shoulders.
“Saido’s had a good season so far and long may it continue,” he said.
“The club are in discussions with his representatives about a new contract and I’m sure it will be done as soon as possible.
“Saido is hungry and wants to play. He wants to make his name in the game.
“But he’s still a young boy who eights weeks ago no-one was talking about.
“You have to keep the levels of expectation down.
“In this country, we’re too quick to push people forward as the next big thing.
“For Saido, the most important thing is that he continues to develop as a player.
“That’s what I’m trying to do with him here and I think he’s happy to work with me along those lines.”
Clarke added: “People are trying to push Saido too far too quickly. Give the boy time to grow and develop.
“My own personal opinion is that he’s not quite ready for full international football.
“But it’s not down to me to tell Roy Hodgson how to do his job.
“That is just my personal opinion.”
Clarke had to do without Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe against Palace and said it was too early to know the extent of Billy Jones’ injury, after the right-back limped off in the 30th minute.
“Victor felt tightness in his hamstring and we decided not to risk him,” he added.
“Nico has got a virus and hasn’t trained since Tuesday.
“Billy felt a little tightness in his hamstring and we’ll have to assess it over the next couple of days.”