Jack Clarke’s loan to Stoke City, regaining confidence after Leeds misfortune and why he might not sign again
It appears to be a third chance case for Jack Clarke after he left Tottenham on loan again in January.
Start of the 2019/20 season at Leeds United after joining Spurs On a permanent deal from the West Yorkshire club, the winger went to QPR on loan in early 2020 after making just three appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
The York-born player’s minutes improved in West London, but he spent the vast majority of his time coming off the bench in games rather than starting from scratch for Mark Warburton.
Staying at Tottenham at the start of this quarter to show Jose Mourinho what he can do, Clarke appeared in three matches for Spurs in the Europa League and FA Cup, but it was clear he needed to get a temporary break to increase his launch time.
Now in Stoke City, the youngster regularly plays for the Potters in his quest to impress the coaching staff at his parent club.
So how exactly is he doing in Staffordshire right now? football.london met Pete Smith, reporter for Stoke-on-Trent Live in Stoke City, to get the truth about the 20-year-old.
How has Jack Clarke been doing in Stoke City since January?
He showed glimpses of what he could offer, at his best when running against defenders. At the moment he’s probably been more useful in drawing fouls than getting killer deliveries in the final third, but he’s been unlucky not to have a few assists to his name.
Two of his converted crosses were scored for marginal offside calls and it was also unlucky that Steven Fletcher and Tyrese Campbell, Stoke’s main forwards, played in pain or injured themselves.
Stoke’s xG, if you’re into that sort of thing, is 1.43 when he’s playing, but they only average 0.83 real goals.
Is he now starting to look more like the confident player who impressed Leeds initially after having had two frustrating loan spells the last campaign?
Yes, much more like that than it was last season. He had a lot more playing time at Stoke than he got at Leeds and with QPR combined.
He was involved in most games and looked confident and fit even though he hadn’t started a league game for two years before arriving.
What does he need to do to start more steadily as he only started six out of 14 in the league?
Probably be more ruthless. Stoke needs their wingers to provide goals and assists on a fairly regular basis if they start with a 4-3-3 and that will be his motto.
Has Michael O’Neill been impressed with him so far?
He was quite complimentary while acknowledging that Clarke is still only 20 years old, saying last month: “We were pleased with Jack’s contribution. There are areas where he still needs to improve, but this he is a very talented young player.
“In terms of loan, he played more minutes than on previous loans, so he’s still adjusting a bit. But he’s a young player that we’re looking at between now and the end of the season to have an impact because you’d like to think that was a situation we could revisit next year in the longer term.
O’Neill also pointed out that Clarke needs to be a bit patient at times. In the last two games, Stoke has come down to 3-5-2, so that counts against him.
What did club supporters do with him during his short time at the club?
Pretty positive, but it’s fair to say there would be more excitement if he was 20-year-old Stoke’s own prospect. He added energy and youth to the front which was needed, but no one is quite sure how much we will see his potential in Stoke.
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Do you think he could be a Stoke player again next season and would that be the right option for him?
Loans are such an important market for league clubs because of the rules of financial fair play. You need it to sparkle.
Clarke can probably be a game-changer at some point, but how long can you count on him to do it on a regular enough basis?
No doubt he would benefit from a season in the Championship… but Stoke’s priority will be trying to build a team to challenge promotion rather than developing someone else’s player. If he re-signs, it will be a great show of faith.