24 February 2013

Nigeria: Clarke - Odemwingie Being Reintegrated

West Brom boss Steve Clarke insists Peter Odemwingie is on the way to re-establishing himself as a part of the Baggies squad, though he failed to feature the controversial Nigerian against Sunderland on Saturday.

Clarke says Odemwingie, 25, has impressed the West Brom camp since being told he must knuckle down in the wake of his extraordinary behaviour during the January transfer window.

"They are not a group of players who would tolerate players not working properly and I'm not a coach who would accept that," Clarke said.

"We demand high standards in training and then you have a much better chance of high standards at the weekend. Peter's attitude has been as good as it was before January. His fitness was good enough but I chose not to use him at Liverpool.

"I suppose us winning there bought us some breathing space and saw to it that everybody could calm down a little. It's important that clubs aren't too reliant on one individual."

Odemwingie, who drove himself to QPR on deadline day in preparation for transfer talks for which he had not been given permission, had already infuriated Albion with a host of critical tweets.

He has since been linked with a loan move to Crystal Palace but Clarke added: "Come on, Peter isn't a Championship player. That's all I would say on that."

The club have been left to deny they are thinking of barring their players from using social media, although Clarke, who attended a supporters' question-and-answer night on Thursday, recognises that some fans will find it hard to let Odemwingie back into their affections.

"We try to treat all our players like adults and don't like to ban them from using Twitter," he said. "Ninety-nine per cent of them use it very well. I've said before.....I understand some supporters will find it difficult to forgive him but we always ask the supporters to support the team.

"He has a big contribution to make and his ability is without question. We hope he still has a part to play in the coming matches. There's no problem with him. Everything's good here. They all have to make a contribution and we are trying to finish the season as high in the table as possible.

"They're an experienced group here, with strong characters. They know what's required and there will always be ups and downs. It's nice to have a connection with supporters and give and hear some honest opinions."

Odemwingie scored twice in last season's 4-0 home victory over Sunderland and hit the only goal in the previous season's Hawthorns clash.

While Clarke has kept mum on whether he will disturb the 18 on duty for the outstanding win at Liverpool by finding a place for him, he has been delighted with the form of Chris Brunt.

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