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Brunt to remain as Baggies' skipper

Steve Clarke has made it clear that midfielder Chris Brunt is to remain as West Bromwich Albion skipper - despite Jonas Olsson committing himself to the club for the rest of his top-flight career.

The Swede led Albion to a fourth successive home victory on Saturday and has been the most frequent wearer of the armband so far in 2012-13, with Brunt sidelined initially by a calf problem and, since the draw at Aston Villa just over a week ago, by hamstring trouble.

Clarke has also praised Olsson over the way he handled the contract negotiations but said: "Chris stays as captain. We're comfortable with that.

"Jonas has done what he should have done. He has seen how the working relationship with me goes and seen how we started. And the players respect him.

"It's important you keep your established players. The board have done that really well here."

The stay-at-home members of Albion's squad are being given extra time off during the international break, after which Clarke hopes the likes of Brunt, Steven Reid and fellow full-back Liam Ridgewell will be fit.

And the challenge to get them back in action is obvious. Albion's next game is at home to Manchester City a week on Saturday.

The Hawthorns head coach insists he's not shocked by the club's flying start and adds: "We know we're a good team and a good group who can stand up top to anyone who comes here.

"We hope to prove that again against Manchester City. The season starts really after the international break. This is jousting.

"I knew I was coming into a good group of players. I knew they were comfortable in the Premier League.

"I’m delighted because 14 points is a great return from the first seven games. I knew we'd be competitive in all the games we've played. But I’m not over-surprised.

"The next game.....we have the champions here. That's a tough game for us and we'll look forward to it. We're not getting ahead of ourselves.

"We know what our primary objective is and we're firmly focused on that at the moment – to ensure another season in the Premier League. That's got to be the bottom line for the majority of the clubs in the league. We have to chase that first. The quicker we get to that, then we can start to look and see maybe where we can get to."


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