Pompey defender relishing extra responsibilities

Matt Clarke is relishing his extra responsibility as Pompey captain.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 5:00 am
Matt Clarke, centre, celebrates his goal at MK Dons with Anton Walkes, left, and Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler

The centre-back has donned the skipper’s armband in the Blues’ past two fixtures.

In the injury absences of Brett Pitman and Gareth Evans – and with Nathan Thompson serving a four-match suspension – Clarke led Pompey out for their 2-1 win at Fleetwood last week.

The former Ipswich defender retained the responsibilities in the defeat to Blackpool last Saturday.

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And he looks likely to continue skippering Kenny Jackett’s side until Pitman, Evans or Thompson return.

Despite being just 21 years old, Clarke already has more than 100 Blues appearances under his belt.

He’s enjoying helping his fellow youngsters with less experience in Jackett’s side and believes his age doesn’t matter.

‘As you play more games and become more experienced that’s the sort of role you inherit and add to your game,’ he said.

‘Obviously, three seasons ago when I came into the side I was probably the youngest.

‘However, now there are other young lads around that I have got to give a helping hand to.

‘It’s something that I relish moving forward.

‘I don’t think it matters about your age.

‘If you’ve played the game then people trust you and respect your opinion.

‘If any of the lads can help each other out then it’s something we will always do.’

Clarke arrived at Fratton Park on loan from Ipswich in July 2015.

He then made that switch permanent the following summer, with Adam Webster moving in the opposite directions.

The Barham-born talent has been a regular under former boss Paul Cook and Jackett.

He made his 100th appearance in Pompey’s dramatic 2-1 win at MK Dons last month.

The following week he penned a one-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2020.

The majority of Clarke’s appearances have been alongside Christian Burgess.

The pair have formed a reliable partnership, which proved key in the Blues’ League Two title success last campaign.

Clarke saluted the trust and understanding the duo have formed together.

He added: ‘It’s been a good partnership for us both and I can’t speak highly enough of Burgey.

‘He’s a great pro and he’s a good player.

‘There are not many times when you don’t think what a good game he’s had, what a good header and block he made.

‘In a defence you want to be able to trust people – that’s what you aim for.

‘You don’t want to be worrying that they’ll make a mistake and that’s something that has been good in the past three seasons.

‘It’s been a stable platform for the rest of the team to be able to develop and play.’