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Macintosh: The Martinez master plan

Everton about an hour ago
Read
Nov 23, 2012

Fresh injury blow for Foster

Ben Foster faces another spell out of action with another troublesome groin injury which could require surgery – just two weeks after a minor operation in Germany.

• Blog: Tough tests with Mulumbu absent The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper has developed a problem in the opposite side of the groin to that which was operated on earlier this month and may have to return to the same consultant for further surgery.

Albion head coach Steve Clarke is still weighing up the options and a decision is likely to be taken after tomorrow's trip to face Sunderland in the hope of Foster returning in time for the busy Christmas and New Year period.

Clarke was hoping Foster would be available at the Stadium of Light, but confirmed the problem, saying: "I had a conversation with the doctor yesterday morning. Ben's got a bit of pain on the other side of his groin that they would like to investigate.

"He said Ben Foster won't be ready for the weekend. I draw a line under it and move on with the players I've got. I'll have another chat with the doctor tomorrow after the game and I'll see where Ben is and what he's thinking of doing with him.

"If it's the same problem it'll be the same timescale, which is a week to ten days. We thought he had half a chance of being ready for this game."

Boaz Myhill will deputise again, after his excellent performance in the 2-1 win over Chelsea last weekend and Clarke is just happy to have two top-class goalkeepers in his squad, adding: "Boaz has been excellent. He has worked really hard since I came to the club.

"He waited for his chance patiently but was the consummate professional every day he came in and his performances have shown that. If you don't work as hard as Boaz did in training, when you come in you get found out.

"I spoke to Boaz in the summer and told him I liked him as a keeper and wanted to keep him here as competition for Ben and he was happy to do that. I'm sure there are clubs in the championship who would have loved to have him."

Meanwhile, Clarke knows he could face a struggle to keep Claudio Yacob - because of the impressive way he has adapted to life in the Premier League.

Argentina midfielder Yacob was unknown when the Albion head coach plucked him from Racing Club in the summer - but is gaining a big reputation for a series of impressive performances so far this season.

Manchester United have been reported as showing an interest in the 25-year-old and Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella has him in his plans for possible inclusion in the full national squad to add to his three caps so far.

Clarke is not surprised at the interest Yacob is creating and believes the holding midfielder is open to even more improvement when he fully gets to grips with the English language. "This is a league where some players struggle to adapt and find their feet. Claudio came in and hit the ground running. He's been great for us," said Clarke.

"He's still struggling with the language but that's something he's working on with three or four lessons a week. He's improving and I'm sure I saw him swearing at the referee last week.

"Sometimes players get nervous about speaking in another language in front of people so he just needs a bit more confidence and I'm sure he'll be even better.

"He has a great character and great make-up. He is mentally really strong and I've liked what I've seen so far from him."

Clarke admits he is now approaching a key stage of the season, which will have a bearing on how well Yacob lasts the entire campaign. The hectic Christmas and New Year schedule is something Yacob will not have experienced before.

Albion face three games in eight days, starting with their trip to Sunderland and it is an important time for Clarke to monitor Yacob and the rest of his squad.

"The dip might come, maybe he's not used to the intensive Christmas period, but we will find out as we go along. It is a demanding week on the players and the squad will need to step forward and be counted this week," said Clarke.

"I've been saying all season I've got a good squad, a big squad and they've shown over the 12 games so far that when they come in, they are ready to play. In a week like this I've got to look at the three games but the players only look at the next game."

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