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Monday, December 31, 2012
Injuries taking their toll on West Brom

David Instone

Steve Clarke is conducting a head count of his walking wounded to see how much he can strengthen his side for the New Year's Day game against Fulham.

• Blog: Jekyll and Hyde for West Brom

Clarke made seven changes, most of them enforced, for the defeat at Manchester United after climbing from his own sick bed to take his place in the dug-out.

But the Albion boss is hoping several of the Old Trafford absentees are available for the Premier League's first fixture of 2013.

"I don't think any of the injuries we have are major or long-term," Clarke said. "If they're not ready for the next game, some of them might have an outside chance for the QPR game (in the FA Cup on Saturday).

"Then, after that, it's a clear week before the Reading game. Hopefully, that'll give the boys a couple of days off to rest and recuperate.

"I was looking ahead to this game at The Hawthorns before I picked my team last time. There are a lot of games in a short period of time. You have to pick your squad as best as you can and make sure you don't falter and lose games."

Midfielders Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu were ruled out on Saturday, as was central defender Jonas Olsson and full-backs Goran Popov and Steven Reid.

On top of those enforced omissions, Zoltan Gera and James Morrison were taken out of the firing line by choice, although the Scot went on as a substitute against the Premier League leaders.

Despite the pile-up of problems, Clarke is far from counting down the hours until managers are able to add to their squads in abundance.

"There are no thoughts, at the moment, as to the January window," he said. "As I have said before, if I can keep the squad I've got I'll be happy with that."

No eyebrows were raised after Albion's weekend defeat but Clarke says he was disappointed by the final outcome, if not by a team performance that drew praise from Sir Alex Ferguson, who described the visitors as 'resilient'. "I think we have shown this season we are a good team," Clarke said. "You don't get 20 matches in and get the points total we have and have the victories we have (without being good).

"That's why I'm disappointed we got nothing from the United game. I expected to get a positive result. And that shows where we are as a club and how much we've improved."




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