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Feb 25, 2013

Baggies' Lukaku targets European place

Romelu Lukaku has said he wants to help West Bromwich Albion into Europe next season - even if he may not return to the club for another loan spell.

Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, will have to wait until the end of the campaign to see whether his parent club are prepared to allow him to spend a further season at The Hawthorns.

The 19-year-old Belgium international has scored 12 goals and wants to make sure the Baggies secure a place in next season's Europa League.

"Now we have 40 points, but now we have to step up our game a little bit because there are 11 games to go and we are so close to Europe," he said.

"I just want us to get into Europe. I'm very happy. I'm just having a wonderful year. Everything is going well. I'm working hard in training. Every day I come in with a smile on my face.

"Let's just end the season very well, and then we will see. I don't know what Chelsea will decide. We will have a chat about how to build up a good career for me at Chelsea. There are a lot of clever people over there, and they are seeing that I am playing in a good way."

Lukaku scored two more goals to help his side to a 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday, and 'keeper Ben Foster hailed the contribution made by the striker.

"He's a tank," Foster said. "I've given him so many plaudits already this season, but he deserves them. He is a really good lad and works so hard.

"He is always one of the last ones off the training pitch and in the gym doing that bit extra. I'm really pleased for him. He has none of that 'big-time Charlieness' about him. He's a good, grounded kid."

The goalkeeper said everyone at the club hoped Lukaku could return for a second loan spell next season, but knew that was not a certainty.

"No doubt they [Chelsea] will be looking at his performances," he added. "We would love to have him back next season, I'm sure everyone agrees with that.

"It's obviously completely up to Chelsea and, watching him on current form, I'm sure they'll want to keep him. But if there's a chance of us getting him, I'm sure he'd like to come back."

Albion's head coach Steve Clarke believes Lukaku's dramatic impact is vindication of the promise the club made to Chelsea to bring him on as a player.

"He is very level-headed, he understands where he wants to go in the game, what he wants to be, how good he wants to be, and he's prepared to work hard at that," Clarke said. "For me as a coach, that's refreshing.

"He enjoys it. I think he enjoys the work we give him, he enjoy the group of players that we've got and I think he's got a good rapport with the supporters, which is important."

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