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Clarke: I won't stand in Long's way

Steve Clarke says he will not prevent Shane Long from playing for the Republic of Ireland this month if he proves himself fit for Monday night's Premier League home clash with Southampton.

On Thursday, Irish coach Giovanni Trapattoni revealed that West Bromwich Albion striker Long had hamstring and knee problems and had been left out of his provisional squad for the friendly at home to Greece a week on Wednesday.

However, he could be back in the picture if he emerges from the game against the Saints unscathed.

If Clarke was irritated by Trapattoni's disclosure - nothing had previously been said about the matter by those at the Hawthorns - he wasn't showing it, saying: "I'll have more things over the season to be disappointed about."

But he confirmed the Baggies were having to monitor Long's hamstring problem, and said the player had also suffered a knock on the knee in last weekend's defeat at Newcastle.

"With Shane, we have managed it really well for some time, probably two or three weeks" Clarke said.

"We're trying to get him fit for Monday, and he joined in training today. Fingers crossed, he will play against Southampton and I understand he could be added to the provisional [Irish] squad if that's the case.

"My duty is to get him fit for West Bromwich Albion, but I would never ever stop a player going to play for his country. The one regret I have is that I didn't play enough for Scotland."

Romalu Lukaku, who played from the start at Newcastle, is again in line to deputise on Monday if necessary.

But Clarke said Markus Rosenberg, who may line up against England for Sweden during the same international programme the week after next, was also "desperate" to play.

Against the winless Saints, Albion will be looking to arrest a dip that has brought them successive defeats against Manchester City and Newcastle despite impressive performances.


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