By Nick Ware

6th Nov, 2021 | 3:38pm

West Brom ace Matt Clarke forced off early v Middlesbrough after head injury

Valerien Ismael was forced into an early change against Middlesbrough on Saturday after West Brom defender Matt Clarke was forced off injured.

Clarke, 25, was handed his sixth successive start for Albion against Neil Warnock’s side, but his afternoon was ended early at The Hawthorns after a clash of heads.

As shared by The Athletic’s Steve Madeley via his personal Twitter profile, the on-loan Derby County centre-back had to be replaced by Kyle Bartley.

“Clarke’s afternoon is over,” Madeley said. “He’s dropped to his knees with no-one around him looking dazed and is being replaced by Bartley.

“Interesting to see whether that counts as a concussion replacement, in which case both clubs will be able to use an extra substitute.”

Blow

Clarke’s Albion career has been stop-start so far.

He missed the opening day trip to Bournemouth on August 6 before starting the next three games.

However, he picked up an injury in the third of those, against Blackburn Rovers on August 21, and subsequently missed Albion’s next seven games.

He returned to take his place on the bench for the 1-0 loss at Stoke City on October 1 before making his on-field return two weeks later in the 1-0 home win against Birmingham City.

Clarke has remained a fixture in the side since but he was forced off early against Middlesbrough today.

Given the delicate nature of the injury, it was the right thing to do.

There may even be some that suggest he should have been brought off a lot earlier as he was allowed to play on with a head injury.

The only saving grace is that the upcoming international break means Albion do not play again until November 20, so Clarke should have ample time to recover from this blow.

In other West Brom news, Valerien Ismael has used an Albion player to propose this major Championship change, in contrast to Burnley boss Sean Dyche.

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