Steve Clarke has revealed how the Baggies’ new-found squad strength is leaving him with selection headaches.
The Hawthorns head coach left star summer signing Nicolas Anelka on the substitutes’ bench at Stoke along with captain Chris Brunt, James Morrison, Shane Long and Matej Vydra.
Diego Lugano, Graham Dorrans, Goran Popov and Markus Rosenberg missed out entirely while Zoltan Gera, George Thorne and Ben Foster are still to return from injury.
And Clarke admitted: “I’ve got a good squad of players and, at different times, different people will start games and other people will come into the games from the bench.
“It’s just a decision I have to make. You look at my bench and it’s really strong and you look at the players I didn’t even take to Stoke, they’re strong too. We have a really strong squad and at times there will be players who are going to have to miss a week or a couple of weeks. I think Nicolas’ answer was to come on the pitch and do well on Saturday.
“We made some changes and the boys who come into the game from the bench contributed to us having a strong finish to the game. That’s why we have been building. The hardest part for me was always picking the team, now it’s picking the bench and choosing who to leave behind, which is difficult.”
“We went to Stoke without five senior players who didn’t even travel.
“It becomes difficult and I’ve got to manage the players and make sure I get the best from them, even if they’re not involved.”