Steve Clarke happy with business
Steve Clarke has reiterated his delight at retaining the services of Shane Long -- while predicting that West Bromwich Albion's pre-deadline signings are ready to hit the ground running.
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The Hawthorns head coach will today welcome Long back from international duty with the Republic of Ireland and reassure him he remains very much part of his drastically strengthened squad.
Albion secured the signings of Stephane Sessegnon, Victor Anichebe, Morgan Amalfitano and goalkeeper Lee Camp before the transfer window shut a week-and-a-half ago and Clarke is predicting that the new boys will make a quick impact on a side who have plunged to the foot of the table with one point and no goals from their opening three Premier League games.
But he is also insisting that the striker whose move to Hull was dramatically aborted late on deadline night is a key man as well.
"Shane Long is a very, very important member of our squad," he said. "I'm delighted he's here.
"I spoke to him on deadline day but not since because he has been with his country and has had to concentrate on what he was doing with them. We will sit down to have a chat and work out how we go forward from here. He has a big part to play.
"You have to work and get your tactics right from week to week. We haven't done that well enough so far and need to do it quickly to make sure we win games.
"Morgan Amalfitano will surprise one or two. He's a good player, a Champions League quality player. Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon know the league and that should help us in the short-term as well as in the long-term.
"Only Victor has not had enough minutes on the pitch. Morgan and Stephane should be very quickly up to speed, if not this weekend at Fulham. They have been able to train with the group [during the international break], as has Lee Camp.
"We're definitely in a better place as a squad...we're stronger and competitive. We need to get them working together and picking up points. The deadline day was good for us. We've got some good players in and hopefully that will show very quickly in the results."
Albion are in need of inspiration after a start that has been in stark contrast to their form of 12 months ago when they were contending among the league's top sides.
Defeats at home to Southampton and Swansea have come either side of a 0-0 draw at Everton, with the side booed off in their last game ten days ago.
"This year, the break came at a good time," Clarke added. "Last year, we were a bit disappointed it came when it did because we had started well.
"It's nice to have got a little breather, with a number of boys away on international duty and after having a busy transfer deadline day. But we've had some of the new players around to help towards what we hope will be a successful season.
"I will have a few disappointed boys coming back today as the results for their countries weren't too good but Jonas Olsson will be happy because Sweden won.
"James Morrison came off with a groin strain in our last game and is doubtful. Matej Vydra won't make it because of his hamstring. Apart from that, we're looking okay."
Clarke says he is not overly concerned by Albion's plunge to bottom spot. "I don't look at the table at this stage," he said.
"When I was a player, the bonus system didn't kick in until after six games. It's what happens at the end, not where we are in September. This time last year, I said the same thing -- that the table didn't matter yet."