Club News

Clarke challenges Long and Vydra

And boss says recovering Gera will not go out on loan

STEVE Clarke has laid down the gauntlet to Shane Long and Matej Vydra to get their season up and running.

But the Baggies boss admits they have got a tough task on their hands with a host of players vying for three or four attacking positions in his in-form starting XI.

Vydra is fit again after being sidelined by a hamstring injury at the end of August, while Long’s start to the campaign has been dogged by niggling injuries.

“Shane’s had a disrupted start because he’s picked up one or two little niggling injuries,” said Clarke.

“He picked up one in the previous international break, which is unfortunate.

“He didn’t get any minutes this time and is fit, available and ready to go.

“I thought he was good when he came on against Arsenal.

“He only got 20 to 25 minutes but I thought he came onto the pitch with a positive attitude.

“Like I say to all of the players that are not in the team at the moment ‘it’s a long season and your chance will come’. They have to be ready when their chance comes.”

He added: “It’s difficult for everyone to get into the team when the team is doing well.

“All the players not in the team have to work hard in training and show me they are ready to go in and do a job for the team.

“And when they get their chance they have to go in and show everybody they were ready.

“Matej is one of a number of strikers we’ve got vying for probably three attacking positions this season.

“In recent games I’ve played three or four attackers.

“We’ve shown a positive intent.

“He’s one of a number of players who can play in those four attacking positions.

“He’s just got to keep working, be patient, wait for his chance, and when it comes he has to take it.”

Another player, who is also edging closer to fitness is Zoltan Gera, who Clarke insists will not go out on loan.

“George Thorne will go out on loan because he’s young and needs game time to get up to speed,” he said.

“But Zoltan’s a little bit different because he is a more experienced player whose body is more hardened.

“He’s able to pick up the pace earlier.

“Zoltan will stay with us and we’ll bring him through at the right time.

“He needs training sessions now.

“He's missed three weeks with a minor hamstring injury so he needs a little bit more time just to get back up to speed.

“We’ve got the Under-21 games if we need to give him game time.

“He’s trained a couple of days this week and he’s been good.

“He’s looking stronger and is another one who has got a big part to play this season.”