sport

Downing: Anelka still has role

West Brom caretaker boss Keith Downing insists out-of-sorts striker Nicolas Anelka can still have a big part to play in their Christmas fixtures.

The Baggies face a Premier League double-header in London this week as they tackle Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Boxing Day before facing West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.

Downing knows his squad will be stretched by the busy schedule and wants every member to play their part, including French veteran Anelka who has yet to score for Albion since arriving in the summer.

With Matej Vydra breaking his duck in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Hull, Anelka, who has been out of action since October following a groin problem, faces the prospect of sliding further down the pecking order.

However, Downing is adamant Anelka is by no means a lost cause yet.

"He's preparing for the two games and bearing in mind he's nearer the end of his career, in his mid-thirties, you've got to respect that," Downing said.

"We're doing that and he'll have some sort of important part to play in the next couple of games.

"I'm pleased for Matej Vydra because he's been here a while and people have forgotten him a little bit. I'm pleased because he's a good type, a good professional who works hard at his game.

"He's in a good vein of form at the moment. He's come on and scored the goal, made some impact in previous games. When someone scores a goal their confidence is high so you've got to consider him for a start at Spurs."