Jackett: I want to build my Pompey team around Clarke

KENNY JACKETT wants to construct a Pompey promotion team around Matt Clarke.

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:39 am
Pompey defender Matt Clarke

That is the message to the highly-prized youngster as the Blues brace themselves for summer interest in the defender.

Jackett sees the centre-half as pivotal to ambitions to escape League One.

And he is eager to build a team around Clarke’s impressive presence, irrespective of any potential suitors.

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Pompey defender Matt Clarke

The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season is contracted to Fratton Park until the summer of 2020.

And the manager is desperate for him to continue operating as Pompey’s backbone.

The Blues boss said: ‘It is very easy to build up players, to build up young players, and very easy to fall flat on your faces.

‘Matt has to keep working hard, he has a good work ethic, has a good attitude, and is one of the players we want to build things around if we can.

Pompey manager Kenny Jackett

‘Our aim is to try to get into the Championship and to do that we need players to improve, we need players to be on top of the division.

‘You cannot say no player is for sale, I don’t think any club can ever say that, it just doesn’t work that way.

‘We haven’t had any enquiries, we haven’t had any bids, we don’t welcome any either.

‘We want Matt to stay and for him to realise his ambitions with Portsmouth, that’s our aim.

‘That’s the case for almost every player at almost every club, until you hit maybe the top one or two and then you look at some of the foreign clubs. There is a chain there and always will be.

‘But it is not something we are inviting or would want. We want to keep hold of our best players.

‘If the phone rings then you deal with it then. That’s how you approach it. Don’t worry about it.

‘If the phone rings and if it all builds up, if somebody starts putting bids in, then you have to deal with it.’

Clarke has made 114 appearances and scored five times since arriving in July 2015.

Initially on a six-month loan from Ipswich, he became a permanent presence as part of the deal which took Adam Webster to Portman Road.

On occasions last season, the 21-year-old was made Blues skipper as he continued to develop at an encouraging pace.

Jackett added: ‘A scouting network has to be good enough to have players in every position because you never know what can happen, even injuries.

‘I feel Matt has improved and stepped on very well. We have set targets for next season, both in terms of his game and physically, and he is capable of improving again.

‘He is very, very comfortable between both boxes and improving.

‘I am not saying he is poor in both boxes, but his target at 21 is to keep his composure.

‘We need better passing options in terms of midfield, but him coming out on the left side is a strength of ours, a strength of our attacks.’