Steve Clarke today insisted he never doubted that Nicolas Anelka would return to Albion as the Frenchman prepared to face Swansea on Sunday.
But the future of Gabriel Tamas is less clear after the Baggies boss told the defender his days at The Hawthorns are over. Anelka is back in training after a week away on compassionate leave following the death of agent Eric Manasse.
The bereavement led the 34-year-old to discuss retirement but Clarke insisted: “It didn’t cross my mind that Nicolas wouldn’t be back.
“I knew he was in a bad place but I never thought I would go into the rest of the season without Nicolas.
“He came here because he wants to finish his career in the Premier League and everything I’ve said about him in the past still stands.
“If I’d had to persuade Nicolas to come back it would have been the wrong thing to do. But Nicolas came back because he wanted to. As soon as he walked in on Wednesday I knew I was right.
“He told me he is looking forward to the rest of the season and helping us build on what we did last season. For me that’s great news.”
Anelka could start against the Swans on Sunday with Shane Long struggling to find his top form at the start of the season and summer loan signing Matej Vydra out for up to three weeks with a hamstring injury.
Clarke, however, has urged Tamas to accept a move away from Albion to kick-start his career. The head coach claimed he could leave the Baggies before Monday’s transfer deadline.
The Romania international, 29, is in the final year of his contract and has not been included in the squad for the opening three matches of the season.
“If I was a player in Gabi’s position at his age I would be looking to play some matches,” said Clarke.
“He might be happy here but maybe it’s time for him to get his career moving again.”