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Dec 24, 2012

Clarke pleased by Odemwingie omission

Steve Clarke believes Nigeria's loss will prove to be West Bromwich Albion's gain after Peter Odemwingie was overlooked for a place even in the provisional squad for next month's African Nations Cup.

The speedy forward was expected to miss a sizeable chunk of Premier League football by being on duty in South Africa in the New Year but has handed his club a bonus by now being available.

"Peter made himself available for Nigeria and they chose not to pick him," Clarke said. "He is obviously slightly disappointed that they have made that choice but he is delighted that he can stay and help us.

"I spoke to him and it is the choice of the Nigerian coach and he respects that choice. But he looks forward to helping us get a few more points instead of going away. He is disappointed but it is part and parcel of football and he is fine. He is in a good place."

Odemwingie will now contemplate announcing his international retirement and says he had mixed feelings about being away anyway as his first child is due on January 11.

"It's clear that my days are over," he said. "It's earlier than I thought but I have played a very good ten years from 2002 to 2012. Albion are on a mission. If I stay here for another four matches, it could mean a lot if I score some goals and win us some points.

"This could be a special season for us and the fact my son will be born gives me some sort of consolation (for not being selected)."

With Albion now on 30 points, Clarke's pre-season target of 40 to ensure Premier League survival is looking decidedly modest - and he appears ready to re-assess.

"In the last two seasons, we have finished tenth and tenth," he said. "Why should we be looking no higher than 17th? I've got more ambition than that and I think the players have."

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