Chelsea

Sunderland: Jake Clarke-Slater might not be as bad as you think

Sunderland: Jake Clarke-Slater might not be as bad as you think

England’s Under 21’s kick-off their European Championship campaign tonight with a match against France.

A fairly big-name England U21 squad kick-off their European Championship campaign tonight with a match against France at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi in Cesena.

In a squad containing relatively well-known talents in the likes of James Maddison, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tammy Abraham, leading the team out will be Chelsea youth player Jake Clarke-Salter, who spent this season out on loan at Chelsea feeder club Vitesse Arnhem.

There, he made 37 appearances in all competitions as Arnhem finished fifth after previously wearing the armband for the Young Lions at U19 level, as well as forming part of the U20 squad who won the World Cup in 2017.

Clearly rated in the national set-up, this news, however, might just surprise Sunderland fans after Clarke-Salter spent a disastrous spell on loan on Wearside in the 2017/18 season. Indeed, it was an awful season for all connected to Sunderland as they were relegated from the Championship, with the player himself describing his stint at the Stadium of Light as ‘tough’.

The then 20-year-old made only a handful of appearances for the Black Cats as a lack of discipline saw him sent off twice in crucial games. Obviously, this was a steep learning curve for the young man, and he has used that pitiful time at Sunderland to build, getting to the point where he will now captain a side who rank amongst the favourites for the entire tournament.

Aidy Boothroyd’s decision to name Clarke-Salter as captain shows how players, through hard work and determination, can turn their careers around, especially at such a young age. To entirely blame him for the club’s struggles during that campaign would be too much but the sight of seeing him don the armband might still be a little jarring.

Perhaps he’s really not as bad as he looked after all…

Black Cats, did you get the impression Clarke-Slater had this in him? Join the discussion by commenting below…

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