COMMENT: Pompey strengthen position over future of prized asset

Matt Clarke celebrates his goal against MK Dons. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke celebrates his goal against MK Dons. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Matt Clarke has gifted Pompey fans a midweek fillip when it was needed.

News of the Blues’ prized asset agreeing to extend his contract has arrived handily to lift spirits off the back of the disappointment against Blackburn.

Ironically, it was Clarke who was central to the late-game narrative which saw the promotion chasers harshly snaffle the points away from Kenny Jackett’s men.

The ricochet Darragh Lenihan’s cross took off the 21-year-old’s standing leg as he went to put his size 11 through the ball was unfortunate.

That led to it falling invitingly for Adam Armstrong to finish on a night when Clarke and his team-mates deserved more than they received.

Anyone who has watched Pompey over the past two-and-a-half years knows you can count such mistakes from the former Ipswich on less than one hand.

After an increasingly impressive maiden loan campaign, the disappointment of losing Adam Webster to the Tractor Boys was offset by the news Paul Cook had landed the Suffolk lad on a permanent deal.

As time has passed, that piece of business has looked better and better. The reason for that has been Clarke’s continued emergence as one of the best defenders in the lower leagues.

Supporters are now watching a player perfectly at ease in his surroundings, as he excels on the left side of a central defensive pairing with Christian Burgess you’d go a long way to better at this level.

Across 101 appearances a growing maturity is increasingly apparent, one which makes him a current favourite for player-of-the-year honours.

That’s led to talk of a move to a higher division developing, with the likes of Watford, Brighton, Hull and Leeds said to be among Clarke’s suitors. Despite his sincere sentiment he’s content at Fratton Park, there’s little doubt the 6ft 5in powerhouse is destined to move up the leagues.

After signing an extension until the summer of 2020, no-one would be daft enough to assume Clarke will be around for the duration of his contract.

But securing their most bankable player strengthens Pompey’s position however his future plays out.