Perpetual Portsmouth presence seeks no Checkatrade Trophy restÂ
MATT CLARKE is aiming to continue hisÂ perpetual Pompey presence tonight.Â
Arsenal under-21s visit Fratton Park in the last 32 of the Checkatrade Trophy (7.45pm).
Although the competition is much maligned by many of the Fratton faithful, Clarke doesn'tÂ see it as an opportunity to recharge his batteries.Â
Instead, it's a chance toÂ make a 58thÂ consecutive appearance.Â
It's been 392 days since the Blues' prized asset missed a game '“Â a record he takes great pride in.Â
Kenny Jackett's side'sÂ 1-0 victory atÂ Charlton in the Checkatrade Trophy on November 7, 2017, was the last time Clarke's services were not required by his boss.Â
The centre-back has subsequently played in each of Pompey's 57 matches since, spanning across four competitions.
All but two of those have been starts.
Clarke puts his impressive streakÂ down to his hard work off the field.
'˜When I think back,Â I do realise it'sÂ beenÂ a while since I've missed a game,' he said.
'˜That's something thatÂ IÂ take a lot of pride in. It's your own body that's fit and raring to go and it's a good personal achievement for myself.
'˜There are always times when you have little niggles. But I've been very lucky and not had any big problems.
'˜It's something I try to keep on top of and do everything I can off the pitch so when the time comes I can play as many games as I have done.
'˜If you're going to sit there and watch the game then I'd rather play.'
Clarke has been relatively injury free since moving to Pompey from Ipswich in 2015.
He's been sidelined by two groin problems '“Â the most recent ruling him out of the opening four League One games last term.
And he's aiming toÂ feature in every minute of Pompey's title charge this season.Â
'˜Age is one issue but some people can go through patches when you might have a long period of fitness and then for some reasons for a year or 18 months your fitness goes,' added Clarke.
'˜It's something you've got to enjoy while you're fit.Â That's something I like. If the manager asks me if I want to play or want to come on then I always want to.
'˜You hear stats of featuring in every minute of the league campaign and something I'm looking to do.'