Romelu Lukaku must earn starting role at West Brom, warns Steve Clarke
West Brom manager Steve Clarke has warned Romelu Lukaku he must fight for his place at the Hawthorns after the high-profile loan signing bemoaned a lack of playing time at Chelsea.
The 19-year-old Belgium international arrived at Stamford Bridge for a reported £18million from Anderlecht a year ago yet despite his lucrative transfer, barely featured for the Blues last season.
Lukaku recently grabbed the chance to prove himself in the Barclays Premier League by making a season-long loan switch to Albion, before this week hitting out at his parent club and branding last season as a waste of time.
Clarke has been impressed by Lukaku's appetite since arriving at the club but warned he must earn his place on merit with fellow strikers Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Markus Rosenberg also vying for places.
"He's certainly hungry, I know that," said the Scot, who is in his first permanent managerial post.
"He wants to do well and prove himself in the Premier League. Whether he has grievances with Chelsea is not for me to comment on. I don't know what happened last year at Chelsea.
"It was obviously going to be difficult for him to get in the team ahead of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres and that proved to be the case.
"But he's got a clean slate this year. He's one of a number of strikers competing for a place in my team and I'm hoping that at the end of this year he's not complaining about anything."
Asked whether Lukaku's comments bode well regarding any hopes Albion have of keeping him permanently, Clarke said: "I think when you look at the size of the fee that Chelsea paid for him, signing him permanently might be a little more difficult for us."
Lukaku came from the bench to score in Belgium's 4-2 win over rivals Holland last night and Clarke was encouraged by reviews of his contribution.
"We had somebody there watching him and had good reports," he said.
"He came on, did very well, scored the goal and helped to turn the game in the favour of Belgium. It's good when your players do well."
West Brom reportedly face a battle to hold onto director of football Dan Ashworth with the Football Association strongly linked with a move to make him their new technical director.
Clarke, who has worked closely with the former Norwich player since arriving this summer, hopes Ashworth remains at the club.
"My relationship with Dan has worked really well," he said.
"I think everybody knows the good work he does here. He takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders and has certainly made this job much much easier for me to settle into.
"I speak to Dan every day and he hasn't given me any indication that he's got his mind on other things, he's focused only on the job here at the Albion.
"If that changes I'm sure Dan will let me know and when he does that I'll let you know. But at the moment there's nothing to indicate that Dan won't be here long-term."
Clarke will assess the fitness of Jonas Olsson and James Morrison ahead of Saturday's opener against Liverpool after the pair picked up knocks playing for Sweden and Scotland respectively in midweek.
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
'Too expensive and too corporate' – ITV presenter Adrian Chiles says of English football as he praises the German Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich facing Borussia Dortmund
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Borussia Dortmund face Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you should know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.