Clarke has no Pompey signing regrets

It was a summer deal that suited all parties.

Saturday, 7th January 2017, 6:37 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:11 pm
Pompey defender Matt Clarke, right, in action against Luton recently Picture: Joe Pepler

And if the rumours are to be believed, Pompey could be set to reap further rewards in the near future.

Adam Webster’s £750,000 switch to Ipswich looked good business at the time, especially with the Blues acquiring former loanee Matt Clarke to go along with a good chunk of cash.

But Webster’s rapid rise to prominence at Portman Road now looks set to net Pompey a welcome – if sooner-than-expected – January windfall as part of the player’s shrewd 20-per-cent sell-on clause.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Premier League clubs Everton and Sunderland are hovering, with the Chichester talent expected to earn his shot at Premier League stardom.

Clarke, though, has proven himself to be far more than just a makeweight.

And having impressed in his initial loan stay – only for injury to deny him before Pompey’s painful play-off heartache – the defender has been in good form of late.

Established in the Blues’ starting XI, the 20-year-old has ‘become a man’ at Fratton Park – with Paul Cook’s, left, promotion-chasers boasting three clean sheets from their past five outings, despite the disappointing 3-1 Thursday night loss to Doncaster.

And Clarke insists he has no regrets at dropping down two leagues to prove himself in the professional ranks.

He said: ‘I needed games and needed to play football – that was what the initial loan was for.

‘Obviously, Portsmouth liked what they saw and the deal with Webster was a good deal all round.

‘For me, it didn’t feel like I was stepping down at all.

‘I felt like I was doing what I needed to in getting games.

‘I wasn’t going to play at Ipswich so it was important I went elsewhere.

‘There are no regrets with that decision, of course not.

‘When it first happened, emotions were running high.

‘But now looking back, it was definitely the right call.’

Clarke’s development at Fratton Park has earned him high praise from the Blues’ management in recent times – with the defender himself quick to recognise the strides he has made this season.

He added: ‘By becoming an established professional and playing a lot of games I now feel I have become a man – in footballing terms.

‘There are plenty of pros out there not playing league football at the moment so to have made that step up is big.

‘It’s up to me to keep myself there and keep on pushing to improve.

‘But it’s always nice to hear people saying nice things.

‘I have now set myself a standard of performance and the goal is to maintain that and keep getting wins for the team.’

And having given a number of mature displays this term, strapping Clarke found time to laugh off familiar suggestions he is actually older than letting on.

‘Maybe it’s true, I am an old-looking 20-year-old,’ he joked.

‘It’s one of those comments we all have a laugh about – I’ll take it on the chin.’