Clarke backs Anelka to end West Brom barren spell

The veteran striker is yet to score in the Premier League since arriving at the Hawthorns in the summer, but his boss is unconcerned by his lack of goals
West Brom manager Steve Clarke has expressed his support for Nicolas Anelka, who is yet to hit the back of the net in a competive game since joining the club in the summer.

The veteran striker arrived at the Hawthorns on a free transfer but has failed to score in any of his five appearances and faces competition from Victor Anichebe, Saido Berahino, Matej Vydra, Shane Long and Markus Rosenberg for a place in the Baggies attack.

Nevertheless, Clarke is unconcerned by the Frenchman’s barren spell and believes his pedigree will see him find the net before long.

"Good strikers will keep getting in good positions and if they keep getting in good positions, the goals will come," he told reporters.
"That's got to be the mantra for any striker. They have got to keep getting into good positions.

"Victor is back from injury and ready to go and yes, it gives me a problem.

"Victor's back, Saido's playing well, there's Nicolas, Matej Vydra is available, Markus Rosenberg is there, I've got loads of options up front. It's a good problem to have."

Having almost joined Hull on transfer deadline day, fellow striker Long is also without a goal this season and took to Twitter recently to vent his frustration over missing out on a place in caretaker manager Noel King’s Republic of Ireland squad.

Once again, Clarke refused to criticise his player, insisting: "It's a long 10 days if you go away and expect to play for your country and don't get selected. It can be disappointing."

"I didn't see the Tweet so I don't really know. I wouldn't think there would be too many bad words in the Tweet.

"If he said he was disappointed not to be selected then I would think that's acceptable.

"I'm not going to tell another manager who to pick or how to run their squad. Players get selected, they go away and the manager in charge of that country will decide if they play or not."

Having gone four games unbeaten prior to the international break, Clarke is determined to continue the fine form that saw his side pick up from points from clashes with Manchester United and Arsenal against Stoke City on Saturday.

"We were on a good run but the fixture schedule is there and you know when the international breaks are coming in," he said.

"Our job is to make sure we don't lose the momentum over the break. We'll get the full group together and get ourselves ready and prepared for a difficult game at Stoke and hopefully we can pick up that momentum really quickly."