Former Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has shared a glowing appraisal of Ciaran Clark, lauding the Newcastle United man for the way he carries out his defence responsibilities.
Bent played with Clark at Villa for five years between various loan spells away from the Birmingham-based outfit, and feels his former teammate is part of a rare breed of defenders who will do anything to keep the opponent from scoring.
Clark has featured in Newcastle’s last two fixtures having sat out the opening seven weeks of the Premier League season (TransferMarkt), and would seem to have dislodged Paul Dummett as Steve Bruce’s first-choice left-sided centre-half.
The 30-year-old’s outing on Saturday against Chelsea saw Clark record two blocks and six clearances, having helped to deny Manchester United from beating Martin Dubravka with two clearances and two interceptions before the international break, per WhoScored data.
Only Fabian Schar recorded as many blocked shots against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the weekend than Clark managed, who also penned a joint-team high three headed clearances.
Yet Bent feels Clark’s influence at the back can sometimes go unnoticed, and is adamant about his former teammate’s talents.
“The same Ciaran you’re seeing there is the same one we used to see in matches and training [at Villa] where you’d hit shots and he’d block absolutely everything,” Bent told Football Insider. “He’s actually a defender who likes to defend, which is a funny thing to say as some defenders are good footballers yet they don’t want to put their body on the line, but he will.
“To be fair, what is good is that he has been at Newcastle a while now and he understands what it takes to play for that football club, if you’re a striker they expect you to score as they’ve had a long list of prolific strikers and if you’re a defender, you’re expected to defend.
“They’re passionate fans up there and they won’t expect anything less than 100% and Ciaran knows that, he will fight tooth and nail for that football club and as I said he’ll take shots to the face, put his body in the way, he’ll just do anything to stop the ball going in the net.”
Clark’s performance at Stamford Bridge may have come in vain as the Blues recorded a 1-0 win, but the former Republic of Ireland international was one of the Magpies’ clear standout performers with his series of crucial blocks and clearances.
Lampard’s West London outfit could have done far more damage had it not been for Clark’s presence in front of Dubravka’s net, as well, and Dummett now faces a huge challenge if he is to regain his previously locked-down position in Bruce’s plans.
Clark’s tooth and nail fighting for the club can also help Newcastle in their current situation, as the Toon will need characters like him to ensure heads do not drop in the dressing room after falling back inside the bottom three of the Premier League table.
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