Clarke: Lukaku ready for Saints
Steve Clarke insists Romelu Lukaku has not been damaged by his wasteful performance at Newcastle last weekend - and confirmed that West Bromwich Albion could lose him in the January transfer window.
The Belgian found himself more in the spotlight for the chances he squandered at St James' Park rather than the one he accepted with a fine second-half header. But his Hawthorns head coach says the player's spirits are high going into Monday's Premier League home game against Southampton.
"Lukaku made good runs to get into those positions and (generally), if he gets into them, he will score," Clarke said.
"You accept with every striker that some weeks they will score from the chances, some they won't. The first one last weekend was a really good save.
"He's young and raw and has to develop. There's no reason why he should let his head drop. His head's in a much better place this season. He has had minutes and shown he is one for the future."
Clarke insisted the youngster was relishing life in the Black Country, where his first-team opportunities have been much greater than at Chelsea. But he also cleared up any lingering doubt as to the recall rights his parent club have come the New Year.
"Rom's really happy here but there's a get-out clause, yes," he added. "I don't know a season-long loan deal in the Premier League that doesn't have a get-out clause in January."
Albion have lost each of their last two games in the dying moments, with ten-man Manchester City pinching a winner on the break at The Hawthorns two weekends ago.
The fact that Newcastle's winner against them eight days ago came via a cruel deflection merely added to their sense of misfortune but Clarke does not see the late heartbreak as a trend to be wary of.
"I've watched the last 20 minutes of the game three times to see if there's something we could have done differently," he said. "It was just an unfortunate break.
"It won't affect the players' confidence one bit. Aside of the result, we're in a really good place and I hope we can put the result right in this game."
Skipper Chris Brunt, whose winning goal at home to Southampton secured Albion's promotion in 2008, is in contention for a return from a hamstring injury after playing for an hour in the under-21 side in midweek.
Fellow midfielder Claudio Yacob is being monitored as well, having returned to training, while full-back Billy Jones is pressing for a recall at the expense of Gabriel Tamas.