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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Downing urges Albion reaction

Caretaker West Brom boss Keith Downing admits the players still feel some responsibility for Steve Clarke's sacking.

Last Updated: 20/12/13 at 14:23 Post Comment

Keith Downing: Players feel responsible

Keith Downing: Players feel responsible

Last Saturday's 1-0 Premier League defeat at Cardiff was the final straw for the West Brom board, who sacked Clarke before the day was out.

The loss took Albion's winless run to six games and left them just two points away from trouble in the Premier League, with another startling stat being that the club have won just three league games all season.

It is therefore clear that the fault does not just lie with the manager and Downing is confident the players he will lead against Hull on Saturday know they have some making up to do.

"They are a very honest bunch of players," he said. "I have to say, I have been here for five years and every player is very senior and professional in what he does.

"They feel accountable and there's a responsibility for everyone when someone loses their job.

"It's important we galvanise ourselves and whatever decision comes from the top we need to make sure we control what we can."

Downing admitted there had been a real sense of shock in the wake of Clarke's axing, but added that things had settled down during the course of the week.

"It's been a difficult time, especially the first couple of days," he said.

"Things have started to settle but it's a big shock when anyone loses their job. But we have a game to focus on now."

It is an important game too, with Hull one of the sides West Brom are jostling for position with.

City have been hard to beat upon their return to the top flight and Albion could have wished for easier opponents.

That said, Downing is confident the team will be in the right frame of mind come kick-off.

"I've seen it this week (their response), the professionalism of what they're doing and their attitude," he said.

"We have to challenge each other and demand from each other, they have to raise their standards by five to 10 per cent.

"We have to focus on what we are doing. What I am trying to do is cover all bases, organise them and pick the team.

"There is a steely determination to put it right, but that has always been there. I've never seen anyone down tools. We have got to get out of this bad run."

The return to fitness of England goalkeeper Ben Foster will give Downing an extra selection problem, although he admitted to being happy at having a full squad to choose from.

Like with any club, he knows some players will now be out to prove a point with the old manager having perished.

"The slate is clean and we have 23/24 players who feel they want to be in the starting line-up," he said.

"I'm sure it will galvanise some of them and the new man will decide... (their futures). A fresh pair of eyes will stir the squad up.

"Our form is relegation form but we need to make sure we turn it around and get back to the middle of the table."

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