Clarke: No rush to depart Pompey

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke is adamant he is in ‘no rush’ to fulfil footballing aspirations at a higher level.

The impressive central defender will tomorrow mark 100 appearances for the Blues in their trip to MK Dons.

Matt Clarke in action against Coventry City in July 2015. Picture: Joe Pepler

Since his August 2015 arrival, originally on loan, Clarke has established himself as an outstanding Pompey presence – and the club’s prized asset.

The 21-year-old has settled in the city and continues to be a regular choice in Kenny Jackett’s side.

However, there remains a inevitable desire to reach the Championship and upwards.

With 17 months left on his current deal, though, he insists there is no great hurry to depart Fratton Park.

For me right now, there is nothing better than playing football week in, week out – and I’m getting that here

Matt Clarke

Clarke said: ‘I aspire to get to the top. I test myself and work hard every day, so why can’t I get there?

‘However, at the moment I am thinking about MK Dons and hopefully if I keep doing what I’m doing then I will end up where I deserve to be.

‘Right now I am happy playing for Pompey and hopefully continuing to develop.

‘You can’t wake up one morning and say “I want to be there”. You have to earn that and playing week in, week out in League One right now will put me in good stead for what the future holds.

‘I’m improving. You feel you are in the right positions more times than not when you keep playing, it becomes more natural.

‘Whereas at the start you find yourself a bit vulnerable, nowadays I’d like to think I’m in the right place more times than not.

‘I am probably playing with as much freedom as I’ve ever had. Under Paul Cook it was different, he maybe didn’t let me do some of the things I am doing at the moment.

‘I am not saying last season I was rubbish but it’s always gradual and hopefully I am going in the right direction.

‘I’m doing what I’ve always done and it’s working for me.

‘No matter how much I love playing for Portsmouth, any footballer aspires to play at the top level they can play at – but there is no rush.

‘For me right now, there is nothing better than playing football week in, week out – and I’m getting that here.’

Clarke has come a long distance since initially arriving on trial from Ipswich with a view to a six-month loan.

He featured in friendlies against Coventry, Woking and Gillingham before the arrangement was turned into a stay until January 2016.

And he still remains at Fratton Park.

Clarke added: ‘I was away in Germany on a pre-season tour and on the way back the gaffer (Mick McCarthy) told me I was going to Portsmouth to train with them and hopefully get some games.

‘I came down on a trial to see if Paul Cook wanted to take me on loan. He wanted to see me play first.

‘I hadn’t established myself as a first-team player so people aren’t going to gamble, they want to see what they are getting into. I had to show my worth in some respects – and the rest is history.’

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