Cook: Clarke can give us defensive balance

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Curtis Main in action for Pompey against Reading under-23s in last season's Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler  PompReading PPP-160510-131550001

Pompey question: Will you attend the Fulham under-21s Checkatrade Trophy game?

  • Ipswich central defender joins Pompey on loan until January
  • Partnered Christian Burgess in three friendlies, conceding once
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Paul Cook believes Matt Clarke is equipped to provide crucial balance to his Pompey defence.

The 18-year-old yesterday completed his long-anticipated loan switch from Ipswich Town until January.

Matt is left-footed and has done well for us in the pre-season games he has played. He just gives us that natural balance

It retains the services of a player who has impressed in his three pre-season appearances for the Blues so far.

Cook has been keen to add a left-footed central defender to his side this summer, with Clarke fitting the bill.

He has matched up the youngster with Christian Burgess in the centre of Pompey’s defence for the past three matches.

It’s an arrival which also played a part in Paul Robinson’s exit to AFC Wimbledon on a two-year deal.

And Pompey’s manager is adamant Clarke can add a different dimension.

He said: ‘I’ve wanted a left-footed player in the centre of defence, I think it is a natural thing in a team.

‘You want to go up both sides of the pitch, but if you have got an imbalance it doesn’t work like that.

‘There is no natural right-footer who will want to come out on his left side and you will end up seeing too many balls in the stand.

‘Matt is left-footed and has done well for us in the pre-season games he has played. He just gives us that natural balance.

‘It is something I have wanted to introduce to the team, I think it is important.’

Clarke played five times for Championship side Ipswich last season after emerging through the ranks.

Boss Mick McCarthy has high hopes over his continued development and believes a loan spell away from Portman Road can be of benefit.

It leaves Burgess, Clarke and Adam Webster as Pompey’s current central defensive options.

In addition, Jack Whatmough is scheduled for a comeback from his knee injury around Christmas.

Cook is also seeking to recruit an experienced player to add to his central defensive pool for the League Two campaign ahead.

Regardless, Burgess and Clarke are in pole position to line-up as the centre-halves against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.

With one goal conceded in the three friendly matches they have partnered each other, they remain the players to dislodge.

And Clarke is relishing the opportunity for regular first-team football now his loan switch has been finalised.

He told Pompey’s official club website: ‘I’m delighted to be here.

‘I’ve already played a few games, so it’s great to have all the paperwork signed.

‘I’ve enjoyed the matches that I’ve been involved in so far and have done alright, so now I want to improve from there.

‘I spent a lot of time on the bench last season and just got a few minutes here and there, so I wanted to go out and hopefully get some more regular football.’

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