Steve Clarke hailed his striking pair of Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long after they combined to help West Brom to a 1-0 win over Reading.
Expectations were high for Long as he faced the prospect of playing against his old club during the Premier League encounter, however Baggies boss Clarke opted to give Lukaku his first start for West Brom since his loan switch from Chelsea. The Scotsman’s gamble eventually paid off in the second half when substitute Long headed down to find Lukaku, who fired past Royals’ helpless keeper Alex McCarthy.
When asked why he selected the Belgian ahead of in-form Long, Clarke told Sky Sports it had nothing to do with the Irish striker potentially facing his former club but it was simply to give him a rest.
“The thinking is I have a really good squad. Lukaku has been sitting on the bench for a long time waiting for a start. Shane has been fantastic for me, he’s come in, he’s done the hard shift, he’s always done the shift from the start of the game. I actually spoke to him before the game and I said ‘It’s your turn to have a little rest on the bench and when you come into the game, try and make a contribution’ and that is what he did. Obviously it paid off, we got the goal. A super ball from Graham Dorrans who’d just come on to the pitch and a great header down and Rom got the finish that went through somebody’s legs. A little bit fortunate, but you take what you get in this game and it’s a good three points for us.”