Bloodied and battered – warrior Matt Clarke saluted for Portsmouth bravery

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Pompey’s warrior was once again left battle-scarred in the line of duty.

And Matt Clarke’s unflinching bravery is recognised by Kenny Jackett as a trademark only the finest central defenders possess.

The 22-year-old was left bloodied and forced to change his shirt after suffering a nose injury against Walsall on Tuesday evening.

Following the fifth-minute incident, Clarke had to play on at the Bescot Stadium with cotton swabs inserted up his nostrils.

In addition, a headband was once again worn to protect a head gash containing 11 stitches –  a consequence of the collision with Nathan Thompson against Bradford.

Regardless, Clarke shrugged off his war wounds to produce another fearless display in Pompey’s 3-2 victory.

Battling Matt Clarke once again suffered a facial injury, this time in the midweek victory at Walsall. Picture: Joe Pepler

Battling Matt Clarke once again suffered a facial injury, this time in the midweek victory at Walsall. Picture: Joe Pepler

And it’s that selfless level of commitment which continues to impress his Blues boss.

Jackett said: ‘Matt is determined, he is brave, he gets on with it.

‘He gets up the next day and looks forward to his next game, he doesn’t wallow around in self-pity.

‘There’s that desire to play, a desire to get out there and do your best for your team and team-mates.

‘It’s a big thing for a central defender – and he certainly has got that.

‘It does seem to be a characteristic associated with that position, the successful ones are cut from the same cloth. Successful ones are like that.

‘He had a bang on the nose early on and the bleeding had to be stemmed.

‘These days – quite rightly so – with blood running down your face and getting onto the shirt, the officials are quick to make sure you go off and get it covered up.

‘I’m pleased to say he has not felt any ill effects. What happened at Walsall and Bradford are not injuries which have left him groggy or anything like that, so it’s really good news.

‘Matt, though, has that determination to stay out there.

‘The one time I have ever taken him off was Bradford – and he didn’t want to come off. There was blood everywhere and it had to be done.’

Clarke has amassed 163 Pompey appearances and scored eight times since arriving from Ipswich.

Entering Fratton Park as a teenager, he has flourished into an uncompromising defender, yet with a surprisingly-elegant touch on the ball.

And Jackett believes other players share such spirited tendencies to plough on in the face of injury.

He added: ‘It’s good that players want to play – and they do. It is true, they want to be out there, they want to be playing all the time.

‘Footballers don’t want anything to hold them back, they want to get into that rhythm, they want a first-team place and they want to hold onto it.

‘But there comes a point now where referees step in – and I do think it’s sensible.’