Matt Clarke warns Portsmouth over complacency

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Matt Clarke warned Pompey to guard against complacency when they face Shrewsbury.

Kenny Jackett’s side look to maintain their flying start to the season when they face the Shrews at Fratton Park tomorrow.

Pompey defender Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey defender Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues have won five and drawn one of their six League One outings to leave them off the top of the table on goal difference.

They’ve scored seven goals in their past two games and have kept three clean sheets from their six league fixtures – shipping just three goals along the way.

Jackett’s troops are looking for their fourth shutout on the bounce as they taken on a Shrewsbury side who have struggled to replicate the flying form of last season.

It’s an exciting start from Pompey and one which has raised hopes of being in contention this term.

Matt Clarke - pick of the defence 8

Matt Clarke - pick of the defence 8

Pompey have injury concerns to Oli Hawkins, Jack Whatmough and Anton Walkes going into the game, however. And the star of the campaign to date, Ronan Curtis, is away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad.

Clarke knows full well the pitfalls of his team believing the hype after their start.

The 21-year-old is aware the challenge is to not take the foot off the gas as he’s witnessed before in his time at Fratton Park.

Clarke said: ‘We know from experience the dangers. We’ve been in games when we’ve been really fancied and end up 2-0 down at half-time.

‘You’re thinking where did that come from? It’s from complacency. You’ve got to keep grounded and take the games as they come.’

Shrewsbury were one of the English game’s surprise packages of last term.

Paul Hurt’s side defied the pre-season predictions of a relegation battle to challenge for a place in the Championship.

It looked as if they were capable of pulling off a shock for long periods, before eventually running out of steam with a run to the Checkatrade Trophy final to contend with.

Hurst’s team went on to lose out to Rotherham in the play-off final with their manager departing for Ipswich in the summer and a number of their best players leaving. That’s made for a difficult season this time around, with John Askey’s side winless so far.

Clarke is aware his team still face a tricky challenge, however.

He added: ‘They were a good side and they beat us twice last season.

‘They’ve lost a few players and that can take its toll. But we’re not going to be taking them lightly. We’re in for a tough game.’