Cook: Matt Clarke’s progress can net more Pompey loanees

On-loan Pompey centre-half Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler
On-loan Pompey centre-half Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke’s impressive Pompey progression can attract more loan starlets to Fratton Park.

That is the verdict of Paul Cook, who has revealed Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy is delighted with the handling of his promising defender.

The 18-year-old has made eight appearances since joining the Blues on loan until January.

On the back of his encouraging Fratton Park development, Clarke was last week handed a new two-year deal by the Championship side.

Jayden Stockley is the other loanee at Pompey as Cook weighs up his recruitment options heading into tomorrow’s opening of the emergency loan window.

And the Blues boss is convinced their treatment bodes well for tempting more players down to League Two.

Cook said: ‘With Matt, it has been a good fit for everyone.

‘Having spoken to Mick (McCarthy) twice regarding the lad, he is delighted with the boy, delighted with the football we play, he thinks it’s a really good education for the lad, and that is great credit not only for me but to Portsmouth Football Club.

‘Privately, we want clubs like Ipswich to do well because we want to build up as many links like that as we can.

‘Without trying to name drop, Eddie Howe was very complimentary about how we played against Derby with Jayden (Stockley) in the team, so managers watch.

‘If we can build up these relationships it will see us become a stronger club along the way, so hopefully one day they don’t want to lend us any players!

‘Matt has come to play football and it is pleasing he is as old in the head on the pitch as he is young off it – if that makes sense – and gives us natural balance.

‘Adam Webster is equally as good as Christian Burgess and Clarke without a shadow of a doubt for me, so we are very lucky to have three very young centre-halves and two are our own.

‘I have a big thing about balance in teams and if you search for left-footed centre-halves there aren’t many.

‘At Chesterfield we had Ashley Carter on loan last year from Wolves, not dissimilar to Matt in being a very good young player, and we took Liam Cooper from Hull – they give you balance.’

Clarke was part of the Blues defence which drew against Accrington at the weekend.

It was a third clean sheet in six league matches, the latest achieved after Clarke had been given a leave of absence.

Cook added: ‘You look at Exeter the other night and think “If we were even stronger we would have won that” but the point is educating the young players into football.

‘Matt Clarke hadn’t missed a minute on the pitch until that night, but we had decided to send him home until Thursday morning.

‘By that stage he hadn’t seen his parents, he was a young lad away from home, and it is my job to manage all of this.’