Double agony for Matt Clarke after freak collision with Portsmouth team-mate
Matt Clarke was left in agony following a sickening clash of heads with Nathan Thompson.
Yet it wasn’t the wound containing a fragment of tooth and requiring 11 stitches which pained most, rather the loss of a proud ever-present record.
Clarke had featured in every minute of Pompey’s last 76 League One fixtures – until last weekend's visit of Bradford.
A second-half collision forced Thompson off with facial damage, yet the central defender soldiered on sporting a head bandage.
Eventually, the constant gush of blood could not be stemmed, prompting his substitution five minutes from time.
Disappointment for Clarke, who treasured that proud achievement, yet he’ll be back in action for Saturday’s televised trip to Charlton.
He said: ‘I was devastated.
‘I have played every minute in the league since Rotherham in September 2017, so it hurt me a little bit to come off.
‘I didn’t want to, but it’s one of those things you take on the chin. It’s still frustrating, though.
‘I want to play every minute, especially when not in any pain, I wasn’t struggling or dizzy or had a headache.
‘Originally, the head was bandaged up and holding, but then you get playing again and moving about and there was blood dripping down. You can’t play with that.
‘I knew as soon as the officials saw it they would be sending me over to the touchline. It was going to be a situation where I’d have to keep coming over for treatment, so the best thing was just to come off.
‘They took me to hospital afterwards and the X-ray showed a little bit of tooth in there, so they had to dig around.
‘It was found in the end, a tiny little fragment, and was well in there too. The lady had to dig around for it, but luckily they found it and stitched it up. Now I’m fit and raring to go.
‘Nathan is also fine, but with teeth it’s not as simple as stitching someone back up, it’s a longer process.’
Clarke, who required two internal stitches and nine external, is now weighing up whether to wear head protection at The Valley.
Thompson is also available and will sport a mouth guard, having badly chipped several teeth, but lost none.
Clarke added: ‘It was me being a clumsy so and so.
‘Once the ball goes up in the air, your eyes are on it. In hindsight, you can ask why didn’t you shout for it, why didn’t you check, but in the moment you just want to head the ball.
‘Nathan did the same and it ended in a nasty collision. It was his area, so probably my fault and he came off worse, sorry Nath!’