Clarke maintains equilibrium despite setback Steve Clarke insists the wheels have not come off West Brom's impressive start to the season just because of their first Premier League defeat at Fulham last weekend.
An opening day 3-0 win over Liverpool set the tone for a superb start to the campaign as a draw at Tottenham and win over Everton followed. However, last Saturday's 3-0 loss at Craven Cottage provided a reality check for anyone getting carried away by Albion's strong start. Head coach Clarke was reluctant to get carried away by his side's form in the opening few weeks and is similarly philosophical about their first defeat.
"We had a really good start to the season," he said. "Then we lost at Fulham - which a lot of teams do - and didn't quite reach the standard that we expected to reach. But it's just a defeat, it's part and parcel of football and we'll move on to the next game. "I'm not sure it was an exceptional start to the season. It was a good start. We're a good team, I've said that all along. "We expected to start well and we did that. We've had a defeat and suddenly everyone wants to turn it around. We just approach the next game like we've approached the others and hopefully our performance will be good enough to get the result. "I'm not sure too many people were getting carried away. I think the media might look at it and go 'that was really impressive' but the important thing is that in the confines of this building, our group, we knew we'd had a good start but I kept saying there would be disappointing days to come. "Unfortunately it arrived a bit earlier than we wanted it to but it's arrived and we'll just deal with it now."
Asked how he wants his side to react when they face Reading at the Hawthorns, the Scot said: "I want to see them win the game. I want them to go out, play as they played in the previous two home games and hopefully that will be enough to get us the positive result that we want."
Albion will be without suspended striker Peter Odemwingie against Reading as he begins his ban for kicking Sascha Riether at Fulham, opening the door for the likes of Markus Rosenberg, Romelu Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune to seize their chance up front. Clarke hopes to have full-back Steven Reid available after a hamstring injury but defender Goran Popov is set to miss out with a groin problem.
Meanwhile, Reading midfielder Jem Karacan is hoping to celebrate signing a new contract at the Madejski Stadium by helping the club to their first league win of the season. Turkey Under-21 international Karacan is a product of the Royals' youth academy and penned a new contract earlier this week that commits him to the Berkshire club until 2015. The 23-year-old is now aiming for a victory as Brian McDermott's side look to add to the single point picked up at home to Stoke on the opening day of the season.
"We are all looking for that first win and I think when we do get it it will be a massive weight off everyone's shoulders," he said. "We have just got to keep doing what we are doing, we had a good performance against Stoke and were unlucky against Chelsea and obviously we didn't do ourselves justice against Tottenham - but we know that. "We will be looking forward to the game on Saturday with West Brom and obviously the target is to stay in the Premiership and hopefully the season will start for us on Saturday. "We all know what we are capable of and we are just looking forward to getting out there and pushing for our first win, West Brom is going to be a difficult game and we all know that, we have just got to go out there and give it everything we have got."
Former England Under-21 goalkeeper Alex McCarthy looks set to continue in goal after he replaced regular first-choice Adam Federici for the defeat to Spurs. McDermott has confirmed Federici is suffering from a knee injury and is unsure when the Australia international will be available. Winger Jimmy Kebe is close to a return following a hamstring problem, but McDermott is targeting the Capital One Cup tie with QPR for the Mali international's comeback. Striker Jason Roberts (calf) remains unavailable.