Head coach Steve Clarke admits Nicolas Anelka’s shock exit has added to the pressure on Albion for a busy final week of transfer activity.
The 34-year-old former France international has gone away to mourn the death of agent and business associate Eric Manasse and consider his own future in football.
The Baggies admit that retirement was on the mind of the troubled Anelka when he was given compassionate leave this week, although Clarke refuses to rule out the prospect of the player returning.
But it does further strain Albion’s resources at a time when the club are under a gathering amount of criticism from supporters about their subdued transfer business this summer.
That improved yesterday when the long pursuit of Scott Sinclair was finally ended successfully.
But Clarke acknowledged today that there was still plenty of more work to be done – and the departure of Anelka for an unspecified period has only added to the pressure on the Baggies to get their squad up to strength.
“We would like another wide player if possible – we have been under-active compared to others. I’m hoping we will be busy,” said Clarke in a clear nod to the £20m-£30m transfer dealings of every club which finished beneath Albion in the Premier League last season.
He was eager to stress the quality of the nucleus of players still at The Hawthorns, pointing out that nine of the 11 who won at Everton last season will start for tomorrow’s return to Goodison.
“What we have is very good,” added Clarke.
But the likelihood now is that Albion will stretch their search in the final weeks not just for another wide player to go with this week’s addition of Sinclair but also another forward to replace the absent Anelka.
Chairman Jeremy Peace will not change his mind about the strategy for those deals, however, with the Baggies owner still determined to seek out deals on the loan market.
Sinclair has signed on a year-long loan with a view to a permanent deal.