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Clarke calls for more opportunities

Steve Clarke believes Premier League clubs need to work harder to ensure that the influx of foreign talent doesn't leave the domestic cupboard bare for talented youngsters.

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The West Bromwich Albion head coach is surprised that home-grown youngsters are entering the first-team fray later than in the past and has identified a major figure from his recent past to put the matter right.

"If you want the best League in the world, you have to go round the world getting the best talents," he said. "That may reduce the pool of English players but, if that's the case, the quality should go up.

"Maybe we're not developing enough... and that could be one for Dan Ashworth. If any manager in this country has good young Engliush players, they will use them. But whereas you could get in for your debut at 17, 18 or 19, now it seems to be 21 or 22 before you become established - and that's probably a bit late.

"We don't have the biggest squad but it's big enough. We lost one or two in January but it was bigger in that long first five months of the season - that's a long stretch up to the transfer window."

There could be a chance on the Baggies bench at Southampton for one of Clarke's teenage hopefuls but the Scot insists there is no chance of his side letting up in the run-in.

As well as still having to play Manchester City and Manchester United, Albion still have games at Norwich and Wigan - two clubs who, like the Saints, still have relegation worries of some degree.

"It's nice to be involved in games like this but not be involved in the battle at the wrong end of the table," he added.

"We don't look down the League to see who we could be helping. We have to help ourselves and get as many points as we can and we deserve."

Clarke has confirmed that Peter Odemwingie is available again for selection.


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