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Clark hails match-winner Burke

Posted: Sat 02 Feb 2013
Author: Peter Lewis

Blues boss Lee Clark

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Lee Clark saluted the attitude and influence of winger Chris Burke after the Scot bagged both goals in the 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest.

Ironically, the former Rangers wide man could have found himself amongst the visiting ranks today but Blues rebuffed Forest's offers and Burke showed them exactly what they had missed out on with a man-of-the-match display capped by a game-clinching brace. 

"Chris is back to his form of last season when he was the best player in the Championship," said Clark. "The first couple of months of this season didn't particularly go as he would have liked but every day he came into training with a smile on his face and worked hard. Even the odd time I left him out of the team, he was very positive with the other lads, he came on the pitch as a sub and tried to affect the game and he just seems to take everything in his stride. He has been absolutely fantastic in the last seven or eight games for us and I'm glad that we turned down what wasn't the biggest of bids anyway from Forest. He was the outstanding player of the day."

The Blues boss admitted that the club's efforts to keep the squad in tact as the transfer window closed - even Jack Butland was back between the sticks having been loaned back by Stoke - has provided a massive fillip for players and fans alike at St. Andrew's. "I think it's given everyone a lift," continued Clark. "The supporters have been given an extra boost because I don't think they were expecting that. And what I've noticed today is that siege mentality - let's go for it, everybody stick together and let's see what can be achieved. I think everyone's responded together.

Clark added: "I believe with the exception of Bolton that our league form over the last two-and-a-bit months has been good. We just didn't get the rub of the green in some of the games that we've ended up drawing. I've said to the players that we've got to keep going and keep believing."

Burke's second goal was set up by second-half substitute Nathan Redmond who showed tremendous trickery and then vision to pick out his fellow winger with a low cross into the area. Clark reiterated his desire to continue entertaining the fans in the same way. "My ethos as a manager is that I love playing with wingers who are exciting, who have a go at defenders and score goals. That's how I built my team at Huddersfield and I've turned up here and we've got some fantastic wide men. We have to make sure they're in the game and keep giving them the ball. I was delighted that young Nathan made the goal."

Whilst satisfied with his team's performance, which resulted in their first back-to-back successes of the season following up last week's win at Burnley, Clark admitted there were still areas for improvement. He said: "I just wish we could have got that elusive clean sheet but another penalty has gone against us. That's three penalties that we've conceded in the last four games. I'm also frustrated that we didn't win by a bigger margin with the chances that we had, certainly in the second half, so we could have relaxed a little bit at the end."

New on-loan forward Wes Thomas was thrown straight in for his debut and gave an encouraging performance which was almost capped with a goal after the Bournemouth man raced through but put his shot narrowly wide. Looking back on the chance, Clark commented: "He has worked extremely hard to win the ball back and shown his pace and probably tried the right thing by bending his shot around but he's just put too much on it. He'll be frustrated because strikers want to score every game, but I think he's shown glimpses of his ability. He's got a good work ethic and good pace, he's a bit different to what we've got and he'll be a good asset."