West Brom V Southampton at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

05 November 2012 05:06
West Brom V Southampton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

West Brom manager Steve Clarke insists his side's confidence has not been dented by successive defeats and that their impressive start to the season is earning them more respect from opponents.

The Baggies collected 14 points from their opening seven Barclays Premier League matches to give Clarke an impressive baptism to his first managerial role.

They have since suffered injury-time setbacks against Manchester City and then Newcastle.

But Clarke has faith in his players to rise to the challenge and halt their mini slump if they show the same sort of form in the home encounter with Southampton.

He said: "It's going to be something different for us. We are suddenly in a situation we haven't found ourselves in before in having lost a couple of games.

"People maybe are looking at us a little bit so there is a question to be answered.

"But the lads have played well and that is the message we have tried to give the players to take forward into the next game.

"We have told them that if they continue to play as they have against two really good teams, and as long as the performance levels stays the same, then the results will follow."

When asked if teams were showing Albion more respect, Clarke said: "I think that is probably right. People have looked at the start we've had.

"Newcastle paid us a big compliment last week when they matched us up and went system for system. They looked at us, felt we could cause them a problem and they tried to nullify that.

"They will be delighted it worked for them because they got the result but we got the performance and the confidence will not have been affected.

"It is about results but you find in football results and performances tend to go hand in hand. If you are playing well, the results will follow."

West Brom skipper Chris Brunt and defender Billy Jones have recovered from hamstring and knee injuries respectively and are in contention to face Saints.

Clarke is also optimistic striker Shane Long will have shaken off the hamstring injury which led to his non-inclusion in the Republic of Ireland squad for the forthcoming friendly with Greece.

Meanwhile, Southampton boss Nigel Adkins is keen for his side to maintain their own identity in the Barclays Premier League and not try to emulate any other clubs.

The Baggies are a perfect example of a team that have come up from the Championship and now appear settled in the top flight but, although Adkins praised Clarke's side, he stopped short of wishing Southampton could copy the Hawthorns' model of survival.

"West Brom have a good record at home - they are a solid side who are very good on the counter attack," he said.

"They have been in the Premier League before having yo-yoed a little bit but they look a very well run, well-managed football club.

"They have a way of playing which suits them, they have a good manager there and some good football players.

"There is a great vision here at Southampton Football Club and what we have got to do is concentrate on what we do - a lot of other clubs can be highlighted but we need to focus on ourselves."

Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez could make a timely return from injury in time for the clash and Adkins is pleased with the number of players now making their way back to full fitness.

"A big plus for us is that Gaston Ramirez is back training well this week and we would like to think that he will be included," he said.

"We have a number of players returning from injury now and we can look forward with confidence and embrace the challenge that we are faced with."

A fully-fit squad will give Adkins a greater chance of being able to mastermind a second league victory for the south coast club as they try and avoid being cut adrift in the relegation zone.

Source: PA