Clarke eyes Anelka talks
West Brom boss Steve Clarke is eager to sit down with Nicolas Anelka on Wednesday to seek clarification on the striker's future after he went on compassionate leave last week.
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The former France international has been away from the club following the death of his close friend and agent Eric Manasse and has even reportedly talked about quitting football altogether.
Should Anelka opt to retire - just weeks after signing for the club - it would leave a huge void in Clarke's Albion squad with time running out to find a replacement.
The head coach is therefore keen to speak to Anelka urgently to learn of his intentions and plan for the remainder of the season.
"The situation has not really changed," Clarke said after watching his side ease past Newport and into the Capital One Cup third round with a 3-0 win on Tuesday night.
"But I'm conscious time is short in the remaining part of the transfer window so it's something I'll try to address tomorrow. We have to try to arrange a meeting as quickly as we can to try to get it sorted.
"I have to sit down and speak to Nicolas. That's the first thing. We have to get in touch with him or he has to get in touch with us and we have to see where he is, where he's at, how he feels, as quickly as possible. We have to have that chat.
"The furthest away he can be is London, because that's where he lives. I don't think he has a house in France. He's not there, as far as I know."
Regardless of the Anelka situation, Clarke is keen to bolster his playing staff before the transfer window closes this week.
"Hopefully we can get players in," he said. "It's a job for the club, I'm head coach and I have to train and work with the players I've got. That's my job. But whether we're any closer to bringing anyone in, I couldn't tell you."
Clarke is particularly mindful of the need to recruit in the goalkeeping department after first-choice stopper Ben Foster was ruled out for a couple of months with a stress fracture in his foot.
The Scot said: "I think we need to bring one in, with Ben being out for up to 12 weeks - and I say 'up to' because he may be back before that - but it's important to have experienced cover.
"I've got Boaz Myhill fit and Luke Daniels came into the side at the weekend in a pressure situation and did well. So I've got those two and I've got no problems running with them. But obviously I need cover."
Clarke's side enjoyed a comfortable night's work against Justin Edinburgh's Football League newcomers at the Hawthorns as youngster Saido Berahino scored a first-half hat-trick on his full debut.
The Newport manager admitted even he was somewhat surprised by the 20-year-old's impressive contribution.
"I certainly know about him now," said Edinburgh. "And I don't want to know any more! He'll be in my mind when I try to sleep this week.
"He took his goals with great accomplishment but if you're playing for a Premier League side then you're going to be a good player.
"There's no shame in us losing to them and the important thing we said was that it wasn't a rout, because that may have disrupted the momentum we've managed to build in the league so far."