Clarke defends rotation policy

West Brom boss Steve Clarke has defended his decision to rotate his players and claims the policy is only coming under the microscope because of a current dip in fortunes.

Spot on!

Clarke has not been afraid to chop and change his line-ups since replacing Roy Hodgson as head coach during the summer as Albion climbed to third spot in the Barclays Premier League last month.

He has constantly praised the strength in depth of the current playing staff and does not believe the changes have been a factor in successive defeats against Swansea, Stoke and Arsenal.

Clarke, whose side entertain West Ham tomorrow, said: "The changes I've made only come up now as a topic because we are on the back of three defeats in a row.

"Since the start of the season I've continually made changes to the side.

"I've tweaked it as to how I feel it should be done from game to game. I'll continue to do that.

"I've got a squad of players I have to utilise and so far this season, I've utilised them quite well.

"But that's not credit to me, that's credit to the players who have come into the team."

Clarke prefers to look at the overall picture with Albion lying sixth heading into the weekend fixtures and he was named Barclays manager of the month for November after securing four wins in a row.

He said: "It is a good record and we should be pleased with it. I think most Albion fans would have settled for the current position in mid-December.

"It is three defeats in a row, we don't hide from that, but I try to be realistic, the players are and so are the fans.

"They know that up until now it has been a good season. You can spread the defeats out or bunch them altogether.

"It doesn't matter. It's the points on the board, the position in the table, that is what is important.

"We haven't lost any self belief about what we are trying to do. We know it's a difficult time coming up with a lot of games.

"The seven or eight games between now and January will define if we are going to have a good season or a really good season."

Baggies key defender Jonas Olsson has set his sights on playing on until his late 30s.

Olsson recently signed a new four-year contract which will take him up to the age of 33.

But the Swedish international said: "I don't see this as my last contract. I have my best years ahead of me as a centre-half and 31-32 is maybe when you normally peak.

"I don't see this as my last contract. Central defender is a position where you tend to get better with age.

"Think of Olof Mellberg. He's 35 and had a brilliant European Championship last summer for Sweden."

Clarke admits he has fitness doubts regarding half a dozen players ahead of Sunday's home Barclays Premier League encounter with West Ham.

He confirmed keeper Ben Foster (groin) midfielder Claudio Yacob (hamstring) and left-back Liam Ridgewell (ankle) were giving cause for concern.

But Clarke would not reveal his other injury worries.



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