Squad depth gives Clarke confidence
West Brom boss Steve Clarke is convinced the strength of his squad can keep the Baggies riding high in the Barclays Premier League after their 2-1 win at Wigan kept them fifth in the table.
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Clarke took the brave step of dropping Peter Odemwingie to the bench despite his two goals to sink Southampton last Monday, and was rewarded as James Morrison and a Gary Caldwell own goal steered his side to victory.
Clarke is reaping the plaudits for his start in front-line management since taking the decision to move up from a series of high-profile assistant roles in the summer, and his side's quality was plain to see in an attractive DW Stadium clash.
Clarke said: "We've got a lot of options in our squad which gives me some fantastic problems.
"We play with intensity going forward and I was a little concerned the ones who played on Monday night might be carrying fatigue. I've got a quality squad and I have to use them. They know they're all valuable in terms of the club going forward."
It was Morrison, one of Clarke's four recalled stars, who set the Baggies on course for their first away win of the season when he met a Chris Brunt cross with a bullet header on the half hour which left Ali Al Habsi helpless.
Billy Jones came close to adding a second before the visitors doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when a powerful drive from Jones was deflected into his own net by the hapless Caldwell.
Wigan responded immediately, with Arouna Kone nodding home a Jean Beausejour cross at point-blank range, but for all Wigan's efforts in the second half, boss Roberto Martinez conceded his Latics did not do enough to turn the game around.
"Arouna's goal was one positive to take from the game and there were other good things to reflect on, but we need to start developing an understanding of what to do when these kinds of situations present themselves," said Martinez.
"We have many players heading off to join their national teams so we'll regroup on Thursday and get ourselves up for another exciting match against Liverpool at Anfield."
Martinez has some concerns over keeper Al Habsi, who played despite tweaking his shoulder during the warm-up, and who pulled off a sensational point-blank save to deny Romelu Lukaku in the 56th minute.
Martinez is not the only one with concerns over his goalkeeper, with Clarke revealing his regular number one Ben Foster underwent an operation on a groin injury, with Boaz Myhill expected to continue to deputise against Chelsea at The Hawthorns next week.
Clarke said: "Ben had a minor procedure but he's back and he's comfortable and hopefully he is going to start training next week. He is doubtful for the Chelsea game but I still haven't ruled him out and beyond that we're hopeful."