West Brom manager Valerien Ismael has suggested that the recent form of both Adam Reach and Conor Townsend has allowed the Baggies to ease Matt Clarke back to full fitness.
The Baggies have been without Clarke since he was forced off the field with a hamstring issue during their win at Blackburn Rovers in August. The 25-year-old needed time to recover and get himself back to fitness before being risked in the Championship.
As a result, Ismael has recently moved Townsend into the back three and he has been delivering some strong performances on the left-hand side of the back three in recent games.
That has enabled Reach to come into the team in the left-wing-back position and the former Sheffield Wednesday player has been growing into the role and has been one of West Brom’s most consistent players in the last few games.
Clarke returned to the bench for West Brom for their 1-0 defeat at Stoke City on Friday, and the Brighton loanee should now be ready to potentially return to action after the international break.
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Speaking to the Express and Star, Ismael insisted that the strong form of both Townsend and Reach has allowed him the time to ease Clarke back to fitness and not mean he has been risked in returning to action to soon.
“That is the reason we took our time. Cardiff was possible for Clarkey but Conor did his job very well.
“We didn’t need to rush.
“He was on the bench at Stoke but due more to the performances from Conor and Reachy didn’t put him under pressure. He was able to come back properly.”
It was a major concern for West Brom when they found out that Clarke would be out for a prolonged period following the injury he sustained against Blackburn. Ismael would have been scratching his head thinking of who he could play to try and compensate for the 25-year-old’s absence.
However, the form of Townsend in the back three has proven to be more than good enough for the Baggies to get through the period without Clarke being available through injury.
While Reach has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks and shown that he can be a very reliable option for them to have in the left-wing-back position.
Those two factors have enabled Ismael to crucially make sure that Clarke is 100% fit before throwing him back into the team. That could well pay off handsomely for West Brom if the defender stays fit now for the rest of the campaign.