West Brom boss Steve Clarke is backing Shane Long to play an important role for the Baggies this season despite the forward almost moving to Hull City during the transfer window.

The Republic of Ireland international was all set to make a £5 million move to Steve Bruce's side but the move collapsed late on transfer deadline day when the bid was reportedly lowered.

Clarke held face-to-face talks with his player and has come out in support of the 26-year-old and outlined his value to the team.

"Shane is a very, very important member of our squad. ," Clarke told the Daily Mirror.

"I'm delighted he’s here."

Since moving to West Brom from Reading in 2011 Long has scored 16 goals in 69 appearances for the club and has one year remaining on his contract.

And concerning the player's near-move and contract situation the Baggies boss urged Long to reach a resolution over his future at the Hawthorns.

"The club made a ­decision which was right for them - obviously I’m part of the club - but very quickly the bid collapsed," Clarke added."Shane and his advisor need to sit down and talk with the club to try and get a resolution.

"Given contract talks had stalled for so long, it is possible that’s why the club originally accepted the bid."

West Brom have yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season and travel to West London on Saturday to face Fulham.

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