Defender’s at Pompey to prove himself

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Stuart O'Keefe in action against Bury. Picture: Joe Pepler

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MATT CLARKE has lifted the lid on his reasons for dropping out of the Championship.

The Pompey defender has told of his determination to prove himself as a player by seeking regular first-team football.

And Clarke feels he’s better suited doing that at League Two level with Pompey rather than at Ipswich.

The 19-year-old arrived from Portman Road on a permanent deal in June after a season on loan with the Blues.

Clarke made just one start in his time with the Tractor Boys but picked up 33 appearances for Paul Cook’s side last term.

That told him agreeing to be part of the deal which saw Adam Webster move the other way was the right thing to do.

Clarke said: ‘I don’t know how much thought I gave to it being a permanent move at first.

‘I was just thinking about the season but when it came up I was delighted because I loved it here.

‘I was really happy about it. I’m settled and happy here playing football.

‘I wasn’t a big part of things at Ipswich.

‘So I thought it was better to be a part of Pompey’s plans in the first team, rather than sitting on the sidelines there.

‘It’s all about playing. It’s not about the reserves, an under-23 side or whatever.

‘It’s all about getting first-team football. That’s the main thing.’

Clarke admitted dropping down two divisions provided him with a culture shock when making the loan move to Pompey.

The Suffolk-born man soon realised he was facing a tougher prospect in the fourth tier of English football than anticipated.

Clarke feels there are plenty of players in higher divisions who would receive a reality check if they were to drop down the leagues.

He said: ‘There’s a lot of young lads at clubs who think it’s easy at this level.

‘When you play in it you realise there’s not much of a different standard. There’s still good players here.

‘There’s a good standard of football so it’s not as easy as you initially think is.

‘I was left out here at first and that was a bit of a reality check that it wasn’t as easy as I first thought.

‘You get educated, learn from it and then the next time make better decisions.

‘You think when you are at a Championship or Premier League club that you are really good.

‘You think that anyone would want you down the leagues.

‘When you get there you realise the standard of player is good across all of the leagues. There’s no difference really.

‘So maybe it’s hard to get where you think you should be as a first-team regular.

‘You have to play and earn it so everyone can see what you are about.

‘I think that should be the way it should be before you get the credit.’