Clarke hails Anelka influence

  • Last Updated: August 15 2013, 15:39 BST

West Brom boss Steve Clarke insists there is "no downside" to having Nicolas Anelka within his squad, describing the striker as a popular member of the group.

Nicolas Anelka: Joined West Brom this summer
Nicolas Anelka: Joined West Brom this summer

Nicolas Anelka

39. Nicolas Anelka

Title Number
Appearances 11 (1)
Goals 2
Assists 0
Yellows 0
Reds 0
*Current Season

Clarke signed Anelka, who had previously been a free agent, in July and the 34-year-old ex-France international has scored seven pre-season goals since then.

In the past Anelka has been labelled 'Le Sulk', with questions being raised about his temperament.

But regarding that, Clarke - speaking ahead of his side's 2013-14 Barclays Premier League opener against Southampton at home on Saturday - said: "There is no downside with Nicolas.

"That ('Le Sulk') is an image that is portrayed in the press, but I find him to be a very engaging character, a very good person and he has been great in the group here.

"He has come in and settled well. He is already a favourite among the players."

Clarke will be without Romelu Lukaku this season after the Belgium frontman, scorer of 17 goals for Albion while on loan from Chelsea last term, returned to his parent club.

It is an absence that needed addressing and while Clarke has emphasised Anelka's capacity for playmaker duties, he also believes the former Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and Chelsea man still very much has it in him to score goals in the Premier League.

Clarke is also hoping for goals this term from Matej Vydra, the striker whose season-long loan switch to the Baggies from Udinese was confirmed this week.

The 21-year-old Czech Republic international scored 22 times in the Championship last term on loan at Watford, and was named the division's player of the year.

On Vydra, Clarke said: "He looks like a natural finisher.

"We hope, with the players he will have around him here, that he can get the same number of chances in the Premier League. I think when he gets the chances, he will take them."

One striker unlikely to be getting first-team action for West Brom any time soon is Peter Odemwingie.

The Nigerian failed to secure a move to QPR in January despite turning up at Loftus Road on transfer deadline day, and he has been training away from the senior Baggies squad this summer.

Reports this week have suggested Dubai outfit Al Nasr were keen on him but have now ended their interest, and asked if he thought Odemwingie would soon be departing Albion, Clarke said: "I don't know. The situation with Peter is between Peter and the club at the moment.

"He hasn't trained with me at all this pre-season and I think that is a situation that will resolve itself in the next couple of weeks.

"He is not with the squad and if something was to change between now and the start of September and he was still here, that is an issue we would have to deal with at that time.

"Peter has made it clear that he wants to leave West Bromwich Albion and I think that is the situation we are at just now.

"I've asked the club to deal with the situation. It is an issue between the club and Peter. They have to resolve the issue, not me."

As well as the Anelka and Vydra deals, Clarke has also completed the permanent signing of defender Diego Lugano this summer and recruited Dynamo Kiev full-back Goran Popov on loan for a second successive campaign.

The head coach is looking to make two or three more additions to his squad before the transfer window closes, and today confirmed talks are ongoing between Albion and Manchester City over Blues winger Scott Sinclair.

The Baggies are thought to want to take Sinclair, who joined City from Swansea last summer but then made only three starts during 2012-13, on a season-long loan.

On the 24-year-old, Clarke said: "I know there was initial contact between the clubs and I know there has been continued contact between the clubs.

"Beyond that, I don't know if we are close to a deal or if we are far away from a deal.

"There are still talks ongoing at this moment in time."

It seems Lille forward Salomon Kalou will not be moving to the Baggies, though.

"No, I think that one is dead," said Clarke, when asked if he was still in the hunt for Kalou.


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