West Brom manager Valerien Ismael has suggested that he is hopeful defender Matt Clarke can be ready to return to action for the Baggies after the international break, after his latest injury setback.
Clarke had been forced to sit out West Brom’s opening game of the Championship season at Bournemouth with the defender suffering from a hip problem.
However, the Brighton loanee was able to make his return to action in the last three games for the Baggies and delivered strong performances in the wins against Luton Town and Sheffield United.
In the Baggies’ 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday though the 24-year-old was withdrawn through another injury by Ismael in the 42nd minute with Semi Ajayi coming on as his replacement in the back three.
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Speaking to Birmingham Live, Ismael revealed that the Baggies would asses Clarke over the coming days to determine the extent of the injury but he suggested that he is hopeful that the defender will be able to return to action after the international break.
He said: “I don’t know what’s going on, we need to assess him. We’ll see how bad the injury is.
“Yes, it’s a really sad, but I hope it’s not too bad. The good thing is that we have the international break next week, so hopefully we get him back after the international break. This is my expectation, this is my hope.”
Losing Clarke for a prolonged period would be a huge blow for West Brom this season considering how quickly the Brighton loanee seems to have adapted to life at the Hawthorns and to Ismael’s system.
However, from this update, it seems that West Brom are confident that Clarke will not be on the sidelines for longer than a couple of weeks.
If that is right then it would be a real boost for them when they return to action at the end of the forthcoming international break.
Keeping key players fit is going to be crucial for the Baggies now because they are looking well placed to be able to challenge for promotion if they can maintain the fitness levels within their squad.
Ismael will be hoping that Clarke can avoid suffering any more injury setbacks when he makes his next return to action and therefore the Baggies should not risk bringing him back into the side until they are convinced he is over his hip issues.
Clarke’s layoff now will provide a chance for Ajayi to convince Ismael that he should be a crucial player for the Baggies in the Championship this term.