Ex-Newcastle midfielder gives frank verdict on Ipswich's decision to allow Brighton's Matt Clarke to join Portsmouth

Matt Clarke toasts Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy triumph. Picture: Joe PeplerMatt Clarke toasts Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy triumph. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke toasts Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy triumph. Picture: Joe Pepler | Freelance
Matt Clarke shouldn't have been allowed to depart Ipswich – and it was a shame seeing him blossom at Pompey.

That is the verdict of Kieron Dyer, who felt the centre-back should have instead continued his development at Portman Road.

Clarke moved to Fratton Park on loan in the summer of 2015 before making his switch permanent the following year.

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He acted as a makeweight for Adam Webster moving the opposite direction for £750,000.

Overall, though, it was Pompey who got the better deal as Clarke made hurtling progress on the south coast.

He was a key member of Paul Cook’s League Two title-winning side in 2017, while he was named man of the match in last term’s Checkatrade Trophy triumph over Sunderland at Wembley.

The defender inevitably departed the Blues last summer when he completed a £4m switch to Premier League side Brighton.

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Dyer revealed he spotted Clarke's talent from an early age and felt he was destined to play at the top level.

And although Ipswich acquired Webster’s services, the former England international felt Clarke still should have stayed with the Tractor Boys.

Speaking to twtd.co.uk, Dyer said: ‘Someone else who might have been in with a chance had he played more often here was Matt Clarke.

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‘He is another of those big “what-ifs”. Yes, we got Webster in exchange for him, but I remember going up to Playford Road (Ipswich’s academy).

‘I wasn’t working with the club at the time, I just went up to watch training, and I was watching (current Ipswich midfielder) Teddy Bishop’s academy age group and he and Matt Clarke were the best players from that age group by a country mile.

‘Then I watched a game and they were the two best players as well.

‘You can kind of tell if players are going to make it and go all the way and those two were definitely in that bracket where they could go all the way.

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‘I know sometimes players don’t quite make it for one reason or another but I was very confident that Matt Clarke would.

‘It’s just a shame seeing him blossom with Portsmouth and now with his loan club Derby having joined them on loan after moving to Premier League Brighton last summer.

‘Another of the big ifs, we got Webster for him but I think Matt Clarke would have been a fantastic player for us.’

In total, Clarke scored nine goals in 175 appearances for Pompey.

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