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Baggies optimistic about keeping trio

West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke believes the club will be successful in their attempts to keep defender Gareth McAuley, striker Shane Long and midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu.

Clarke reported significant progress in negotiations with all three players – especially McAuley, who had seemed set to depart after disappointment at the terms being offered by chairman Jeremy Peace.

The player had refused to agree to the second year of a proposed two-year extension being on a pay-as-you-play basis, but his agent Paul Warhurst held further negotiations on Thursday and Clarke said he now expected all three players to sign new deals.

“I would like to think we were close," he said. "There are a number of contract negotiations that are ongoing right now, and hopefully we’re working towards a conclusion on all of them.

“It used to be that you got a contract offer, you sat down, you had a couple of hours chatting about it and you signed it.

“Contracts now, by and large, take a bit longer to do for some reason - but we’re hopeful that all the contract negotiations we’re in at the moment will come to a successful conclusion quite soon.”

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