ROB TANNER, STAFF WRITER
West Bromwich Albion have again demonstrated their resolve that none of their key players will leave The Hawthorns this summer unless it was on their terms.
Albion rejected a second bid from Fulham for captain Jonathan Greening yesterday, believed to be around £3.25?million, and Roy Hodgson’s determination to bring the 30-year-old to Craven Cottage is being tested to the full.
Hodgson had an initial bid of around £2 million plus a player instantly rejected last week and chairman Jeremy Peace branded the offer as ‘derisory’.
Fulham’s second bid has also fallen short of Albion’s valuation for a player who has been the core of the side for the last five years and who has recently been offered a new four-year deal.
The move may also test Greening’s recent decree that he would be fully committed to Albion should a move not materialise this summer, even though the midfielder has made it abundantly clear he wants to join a Premier League club by handing in a official transfer request.
Greening was true to his word during Albion’s recent tour of Slovenia and showed no signs that the uncertainty over his future would affect his performances, however he is sure to be privately frustrated at Albion’s stubbornness to block a move for him.
The two-game mini tour of the Balkan state has been declared a resounding success by Albion head coach Roberto Di Matteo.
They finished the tour with a 2-2 draw against Croatian top-flight side NK Varteks on Saturday, and Di Matteo was delighted to see striker Craig Beattie amongst the goals.
The Scot grabbed a brace to and only two wonder goals from Miljenko Mumlek and Zoran Lesjaks denied the Baggies a second successive victory.
“Varteks are the best team we’ve played so far so it was a good test for us,” he said. “We’re gradually stepping things up.
“On Saturday, some players played for more than 45 minutes while a few came back from injury – including Robert Koren. It was good to see Roko back. He joined in full training with the squad on Friday evening so we just gave him a little run-out at the end. All in all, it’s been a good week. We’ve worked very hard. We’ve also had a couple of good friendlies and I’m very pleased with the players.”
Beattie and fellow striker Luke Moore, who was also amongst the goals during the 3-0 win over NK Nafta, had been on the periphery under previous manager Tony Mowbray but Di Matteo said it was a fresh start for both men.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who scores, as long as we do score, but, as I said on Wednesday, it’s important for strikers’ confidence that they score goals, so it’s good those two are among the goals,” he said.
“Everybody’s a part of my plans at the moment. The players are obviously trying to impress me and are working hard.
“We’ve been experimenting a little bit by playing players in different positions.
“The formation you use sometimes depends on the players you have in your squad. But it’s good if the team knows how to play in different situations. During games, you have to adapt to circumstances as they arise, so it’s good they know how to do it.
“We’re also working on the defensive side of our game. Varteks scored two very good goals but we also made a lot of changes towards the end of the match.”
Di Matteo confirmed that Simon Cox missed the Varteks game with a minor ankle problem while Adboulaye Meite sat it out through illness.