West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael is weighing up the right comeback trail for Matt Clarke as he closes in on a return.
Clarke was a summer signing from Brighton and Hove Albion, agreeing a season-long loan with the Baggies and stepping back into the Championship.
He started three Championship fixtures on the bounce after arriving at the Hawthorns, but Ismael was frustrated to watch Clarke pull up in the win over Blackburn Rovers with a hamstring injury.
Ismael has been able to provide an update on Clarke, with the 25-year-old now back in training. However, the head coach is trying to manage Clarke’s return.
As per the Birmingham Mail, he said: “Everything is on track. He’s started to train, he’s back training with the squad, so now it’s just timing – when is the right moment? For tomorrow, it will be too short but from next week we will see which game – do we need to take any risk before the break?
“Or does the player say he is ready, everything is fine, he is back in training – but now it is my decision and my job to find the right timing for his next game.”
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Despite remaining unbeaten in the Championship under Ismael, West Brom have fallen to third in the table and off the pace of Bournemouth and Fulham at the top.
Three consecutive draws since the international break have frustrated the Baggies, who last tasted victory on August 28th when they left it late to beat Peterborough United.
Tomorrow night, they host Queens Park Rangers at the Hawthorns.
The last thing that West Brom need to be doing here is rushing Clarke back and aggravating his injury.
He’s an important player and will play his part eventually, but West Brom don’t need to rush him and lose him for longer than they need to.
Ismael’s side are fairly competitive in terms of their defence, Clarke is part of that, of course, but they can manage without him for a couple more weeks if needs be.
Thoughts? Let us know!