The former Portsmouth favourites preparing to do battle when Derby face Wigan

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They were Pompey’s prized assets this time last year. 

Now Matt Clarke and Jamal Lowe prepare to do battle this evening. 

Both were key players as the Blues suffered League One play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland.

Clarke, regarded as the best defender in the third tier by many, played an incredible 60 matches last term and was crowned The News/ Sports Mail Player of the Season for consecutive years. 

Lowe, meanwhile, finished as Pompey’s 17-goal top scorer, with one of his efforts coming in the Checkatrade Trophy final triumph at Wembley. 

The duo’s fine form saw them recognised by their peers and were named in the PFA League One Team of the Year. 

Matt Clarke, left, and Jamal Lowe will go head to head tonight. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke, left, and Jamal Lowe will go head to head tonight. Picture: Joe Pepler

Not only that but they would often getting to training before their team-mates in the morning to do that bit extra together.

However, Kenny Jackett’s side’s failure to reach the Championship meant both departed in the summer.

Clarke moved to Premier League Brighton for £4m – a switch that would have likely happened regardless of if Pompey had have gone up.

He’s currently on a season-long loan at Derby County and has made 10 appearances to date.

Following a protracted transfer saga, Lowe eventually joined Wigan for a fee of around £2.5m and reunited with the man who brought him to Fratton Park in January 2017, Paul Cook. 

The winger broke his duck in his 13th outing on Sunday when he delivered the Latics a 1-0 win over promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest. 

Wigan travel to Derby tonight (7.45pm kick-off) and both are expected to start for their respective teams.

Having had plenty of duels at the Blues’ Roko training base during the two-and-a-half years they spent together on the south coast, Pride Park will now be the battleground.