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Clarke looking to bounce back

Steve Clarke insists his West Bromwich Albion side are back in good heart as he prepares to return to the club where he launched his coaching career.

Clarke admitted to a feeling of despair at the manner of the 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City six days ago but says the gloom has now been replaced by optimism arising from his team's performance, and the fact that West Brom's next challenge is at his former club Newcastle on Sunday gives him an extra personal incentive.

"There's a positive feeling now about how we played against City," he said. "Immediately after the game, it was a massive disappointment, but we've had plenty of time to get over it.

"Now we go and try to get a result at St James'. We have scored some late goals as well as concede that one last weekend. Maybe it's because the games we have played have tended to open up late. We have to be determined and be sure to put on a good performance. If you do that, the result can follow."

Clarke was part of the backroom staff under Ruud Gullit at Newcastle more than a decade ago and is looking forward to his first visit with an Albion side who have performed well there. The Baggies' last three trips to Tyneside have brought a win and two draws, one of them from 3-0 down.

"I had a great time at Newcastle very early in my development as a coach," he added. "I stay in touch with some of the friends I made there.

"Newcastle have had to cope with extra games because of the Europa League and they are probably a bit behind where they want to be. But I'm not sure I agree with those who say they're struggling."

Albion expect to be "pretty much full strength", he said, although midfielder Claudio Yacob is being monitored after picking up a hamstring strain against City.

Full-back Billy Jones is also back in contention following a knee injury while skipper Chris Brunt has an outside chance of returning now he is back in training after a month-long hamstring problem.

Clarke has made it clear he is keeping an eye on possible transfer targets for January - but only from a distance.

"I've told Dan Ashworth that I'm really happy with what I've got here and, if I go into the second half of the season with these players, I'll be delighted," he said. "But if you rest on your laurels, it will come back and bite you."


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