West Brom will handle losses to African Nations Cup says Steve Clarke

African tournament will see star striker depart

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The Independent Football

Steve Clarke expects striker Peter Odemwingie to be called up by Nigeria for the upcoming African Nations Cup if he continues his current form for West Brom.

But head coach Clarke is confident Albion have the strength in depth to cope with the loss of Odemwingie and DR Congo midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu if they are called into international action in January.

Odemwingie has produced a string of fine performances to help the Baggies into third spot in the Barclays Premier League ahead of this evening's clash at Swansea.

He has had an up and down relationship with his country, but Clarke said: "If Peter continues in the current form he's in, I'd think Nigeria would select him.

"He has been playing really well for us, he has been fantastic.

"If Nigeria want to go with their best players, I'm sure Peter would be in that squad for the African Nations Cup.

"But we have cover for Peter - and Youssouf's absence as well. I've said that all along if people get called up, we have the squad to cover him.

"Saturday's game (a 4-2 win at Sunderland) proved it when Youssouf was out injured."

Clarke is confident Albion's players will not be carried away with their current success.

They will be bidding for a fifth successive top-flight win for the first time in 34 years at the Liberty Stadium.

Former Chelsea and Liverpool number two Clarke said: "I think they're quite a level-headed group. They're a group who will keep their feet on the ground.

"There might be one or two who might get a little bit carried away but everyone else will jump on top of them and keep them down.

"To extend the good run, we have to just keep doing what we're doing.

"The players have to work as hard as they been doing in training so that when they get their chance to go into the team, they'll be ready for it.

"If they continue to perform as well as they have been doing - then I think we can keep the run going a bit longer."

Goalkeeper Ben Foster is again ruled out with a groin injury, which may need further surgery, and Clarke will check of the fitness of defender Jonas Olsson who suffered a calf injury at Sunderland.