Clarke hails outgoing Ashworth
West Brom boss Steve Clarke has hailed the work of Dan Ashworth as the sporting and technical director prepares to leave his post next summer.
It was confirmed on Monday that Ashworth will leave the Hawthorns at the end of the season to take up the prestigious role of the Football Association's director of elite development at St George's Park.
It leaves a significant hole for Albion to fill, however, as they lose the man who has played such a significant role in the club's successful recruitment of players and coaches, as well as youth development and other off-field duties.
Clarke and Ashworth have already struck up an excellent working relationship since the former arrived in the summer, and the Scot admits his input will be missed.
"I don't think 'bad' is the right word to sum it up for the club but obviously it is a bit of a disappointment because it leaves a hole that has to be filled," said Clarke.
"But Dan's not going immediately, he's staying around to help in the process of finding a successor and I'm sure he'll do that as diligently as all the other tasks he's asked to do for the club.
"Meanwhile we'll look to appoint someone that can continue the good work that Dan and the chairman Jeremy Peace have done and hopefully it's someone I can work with as well.
"Dan will be involved in the process of identifying targets and people to come in to do the job, and I imagine the chairman will be the person to have the final say."
Asked to summarise Ashworth's role from his point of view, Clarke said: "His job is to syphon off all the transfer dealings, the agents, the looking at players, organising the scouting, taking all that pressure away from me so that I can go out on the pitch and coach and work with the players first hand.
"It takes a lot away from me.
"Around about that we speak daily, sometimes for five minutes, sometimes an hour and five minutes, sometimes even longer. We discuss almost everything.
"The thing about Dan is he's very open, very honest and if there's an agent who contacts about a player, he tells me.
"He tells me everything that goes on and I think the fact he's so honest makes the relationship easy."
Clarke's priority for the time being is Saturday's visit of Reading.
While Albion took seven points from their first three games before losing to Fulham last weekend, the Royals are still scrapping for their first win of the Barclays Premier League campaign.
"Reading will be desperate to get their first win in the league this season," said the Baggies head coach.
"I think they were unfortunate to have a long enforced absence after the Sunderland game was called off and I think you probably saw the result of that in the first half against Tottenham (3-1 defeat) when they started a little bit slowly, which is very unlike Reading.
"I think a better example of Reading this season would be to look back at their performance at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, when I thought they were terrific and they pushed Chelsea all the way despite losing 4-2."