Matt Clarke can be Pompey backbone for years to come

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Matt Clarke can establish himself as Pompey’s backbone for many years to come.

That is the verdict of Michael Doyle, who is convinced the exit of Adam Webster has been substantially cushioned by the 19-year-old’s recruitment.

He is only a kid, yet looks like he’s about 28

Michael Doyle

Clarke impressed during a season-long loan from Ipswich, making 33 appearances and scoring once.

On occasions he was selected ahead of Webster to partner Christian Burgess at the heart of the Blues’ defence.

The youngsters swapped clubs earlier this month, Pompey also receiving around £700,000 to compensate.

And Doyle believes the deal represents excellent value.

Pompey’s skipper said: ‘I thought Matty was excellent last season, he has so much potential, I was absolutely delighted when we got him permanently.

‘His performances on the field spoke for themselves, he was improving every week.

‘But looking at the other side, he is one of the first in every day from Monday to Friday, in the gym every day and out there working on his game. He is just a great professional.

‘I suppose in a sense he is only a kid, but he is a man. He can be a massive player for Portsmouth for years to come.

‘I remember seeing him for the first time in the friendly against Coventry. I thought to myself “Who is this fella, I haven’t seen him before”.

‘He is only a kid, yet looks like he’s about 28.

‘Last year was a learning curve for Matty, but it didn’t even feel like that when you played with him, he never really got caught out.

‘He just came in and it was like he had played 300 to 400 league games.

‘I am not knocking Ipswich, they are probably a bit more direct, so Matty has come into a team that want to pass and probably it was all a bit new.

‘It shows what a good professional he is to learn the system tactically.

‘Matty just needs to keep improving, with the manager and staff here that can definitely happen.

‘It’s a great signing for the club.’

Webster made 35 appearances last term, scoring twice, in his best campaign for the Blues.

Yet such was his form, Cook had long anticipated a summer departure for a higher level.

Doyle added: ‘I thought Webbo was a great player and brilliant for us. Good luck to him.

‘I don’t want to sound disrespectful but it cushions the blow by signing Matty – and we also know what we are getting.

‘Webbo came in and looked head and shoulders above the level he played at, obviously people noticed that and Ipswich signed him.

‘The management have improved him as a player and he has reaped the benefits.

‘He got in and took his chance – and somebody has now taken their chance on him.’