Clarke unconcerned by WBA goal drought
Steve Clarke insists he is totally unconcerned by West Bromwich Albion's sudden goal drought and is determined that the Hawthorns remains an unwelcoming place for visiting sides.
The Scot sends his team out tomorrow at home to another of the Premier League's surprise sides, Norwich, on the back of a run of four matches without a victory.
Albion haven't netted in the last three of those - since Romelu Lukaku's consolation effort at Swansea at the end of November, in fact - and now find themselves up against opponents who beat them in the League and FA Cup in the Black Country last season.
But the head coach believes it's only a matter of time before his players regain their free-scoring early-season ways.
Reminded that it's some five-and-a-quarter hours of playing time since Albion last found the net, he said on Friday: "We haven't spoken about it. I have no concern about this team scoring goals, none whatsoever."
"We set out at the start of the season to make this a difficult place for teams to come and we are looking to continue that.
"Chris Hughton has done a great job. It took him a few games to get his message across and since they picked that up, they have done great. I went to see them against Villa in the Capital One Cup recently and they are always a threat and look like they can score goals. This game's a big challenge for us but it's one we're looking forward to.
"I haven't changed from the first day of the season. We're approaching half way and we're still in a really good place. A lot of people would have accepted us being on 27 points but we can't be complacent. We have to push ourselves further, into an even better position."
Albion's early-winter famine comes as Chris Wood continues to bang in the goals for Millwall, his midweek brace at Brighton taking his tally on loan with the Championship promotion-chasers to ten.
Several other clubs are thought to be rivalling the Londoners in the race to sign the young New Zealander during next month's transfer window but Clarke is in no rush to decide whether to sell or even recall him to his squad.
"I've still got games before January (when Wood's loan at Millwall ends) and there's the possibility of injuries and suspensions," he added.
"He's one of our players and doing fantastically well. If I need him to come back and help here, that's what I'll do. The most important thing is West Bromwich Albion and a decision will be made at the right time for this club."
Albion are without injured duo Claudio Yakob and Steven Reid tomorrow while Yakob's midfield partner Youssouf Mulumbu serves a one-match ban after collecting five bookings.
"I'm in a much better place than last weekend," Clarke said. "A lot of players played with knocks and niggles against West Ham - and that says a lot for their character. Only Reid and Yakob miss this one through injury and that doesn't rule them out of the next game (QPR away on Boxing Day)."