Former West Brom forward Kevin Phillips has insisted that the return of Matt Clarke to full fitness is going to be a major boost for the Baggies given the experience he can bring to the table for them.
Clarke arrived on a season-long loan from Brighton in the summer and the defender enjoyed a bright start to life at the Hawthorns in the early weeks of the campaign.
The 25-year-old started in all three of the Baggies’ wins against Luton Town, Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers in August and he looked like a really solid option for Valerien Ismael to call upon in his back three this term.
However, in that 2-1 win at Blackburn towards the end of August, Clarke suffered a hamstring injury that has seen him miss all of the last seven Championship matches for West Brom.
The defender did return to the squad for the first time since his hamstring injury against Blackburn during West Brom’s 1-0 defeat at Stoke City ahead of the international break. However, he was not brought onto the field and instead handed a bit more time to recover by Ismael.
Only a true expert on West Brom will get these 27 Baggies’ quiz questions correct
Speaking to West Brom News, Phillips suggested that having Clarke back in contention for West Brom is a massive boost for Ismael because he feels the Baggies need his experience in and around the squad to keep their bright start to the season going.
He said: “Of course now with the break, you’d like to think he’ll be in and around it come when they next play.
“Big boost he’s got some minutes under his belt, we know how experienced he is and where West Brom are sitting at the minute, they need those experienced players back in the side to help them.
“That will be a big boost.”
Losing Clarke was undoubtedly a real setback for the Baggies but they have managed to cope reasonably well with the defender missing seven matches of the Championship season.
However, considering that Dara O’Shea is also out now for a prolonged period, getting Clarke back to full fitness has to be a major plus for the Baggies as Phillips outlines here.
The 25-year-old is a proven quality player at Championship level from his two seasons on loan with Derby County, he is the sort of player that Ismael can rely upon to be consistent with his performances and that is what he needs to get his side back to winning ways.
Ismael will surely be expected to put Clarke back into the side in the next few weeks, that will mean a major decision is needed over whether to move Conor Townsend back to the left-wing-back position or keep Adam Reach in that role.