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Jan 17, 2013

West Brom's injury problems subsiding

Steve Clarke has revealed that West Bromwich Albion defender Steven Reid played for half a match with a broken leg before he departed on his latest absence through injury.

• Blog: Injuries take their toll

The Republic of Ireland international has recently returned to first-team action with the Baggies, having acquired the reputation of being somewhat injury-prone.

But the full extent of the problem he suffered at Arsenal a month and a half ago was this afternoon disclosed for the first time.

"Steven had a fractured fibula and played 45 minutes with a broken leg," the Hawthorns head coach said. "That tells you the character of the boy."

Reid's absence had been put down to bone damage and he is unlikely to be risked in Saturday's home derby against Aston Villa as he is nursed back into a regular routine.

A decision on whether Claudio Jacob returns following six weeks out with hamstring trouble will be taken after training on Friday, with Clarke admitting the Argentine midfielder's comeback will be welcome.

"He is not flamboyant or a player who would get too many headlines," he added. "But we have missed him a bit over a number of games. When you consistently miss him, it stretches you and now we're missing Youssouf Mulumbu (to the African Cup of Nations) as well.

"We have lost that rhythm a little but there are encouraging signs because I can see it coming back."

Forwards Shane Long and Marc-Antoine Fortune are still rated as 50-50 for the weekend but all the club's fitness problems, apart from long-term knee injury victim Zoltan Gera, are due to clear up by the other side of FA Cup fourth-round weekend.

"We'll get the other side of the next ten days and we'll be fine," Clarke said.

One headache the manager doesn't expect to have is over the Hawthorns future of Peter Odemwingie.

The Nigerian international has been the subject of a failed bid from QPR since being overlooked for the African Nations Cup and there has been some speculation that he was about put in a transfer request.

But, as with Harry Redknapp's £5 million offer for Jonas Olsson, the head coach is adamant that supporters need not fret.

"We don't have to sell, we don't want to sell – and we're not too far from the end of the transfer window," he said. "Our only focus is getting our season back on track on Saturday evening.

"It will please me if we can finish round where we are now. We're disappointed we haven't pushed on. The only run that concerns me is the last three league games.

"In the last ten minutes at Reading, the roof fell in and it ran away from us. Hopefully, we have learned from that and it's a once-in-four-year event and it doesn't happen again to us.

"We have a squad who are looking forward to the game and trying to right a few wrongs. We want to finish top dogs in the Midlands, so we need to put all those things right."

The West Midlands is forecasted to be hit by heavy snow overnight on Thursday and Friday but it's business as usual, for the time being at least, for a side who have now gone five league and cup games without winning.

"We're preparing as normal as though it's on," Clarke insisted. "I think there has only been one instance in the last ten or 11 years where a game has been called off here."

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