Pompey defender: Count on me for Checkatrade Trophy duty

Pompey defender Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey defender Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler
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Last-man standing Matt Clarke has declared his willingness for Checkatrade Trophy duty.

Pompey have been plunged into a central-defensive crisis, with Christian Burgess, Nathan Thompson and Jack Whatmough all unavailable for tomorrow night’s visit of Crawley (7.45pm).

That leaves Clarke as the only senior player for one of the two centre-half slots in Kenny Jackett’s side.

The 21-year-old himself only returned to the side last month following injury, while he had three stitches applied to a cut above his right eye sustained against Scunthorpe.

Certainly, it would be tempting for Jackett to rest the former Ipswich man ahead of the trip to Gillingham on Sunday.

Regardless, Clarke would not turn down the opportunity to feature in the much-maligned competition.

He said: ‘I would like to play, I always want to play, but it’s up to the gaffer – he will assess what the options are and make his call.

‘Whether I play or he puts someone in who isn’t a centre-half or someone from the youth team, that’s up to him, but, obviously, I always want to play every game and am happy if I get called up.

‘If I can, I will play.

‘Sometimes you can overprotect players, only to end up training and then getting injured anyway.

‘You cannot go into things thinking “I don’t want to get injured”, you just have to do everything to prevent it and then just play normal football.’

Clarke has made 76 appearances and scored two goals since arriving at Fratton Park initially on loan in the summer of 2015.