Award season is in full swing in the EFL, and it’s a good time to be Matt Clarke of Portsmouth.
The 22-year-old defender was picked in the League One Team of the Season, the only Pompey player to be placed in the side and the only Portsmouth player to be recognised by the EFL this season despite breakout years from Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis.
Clarke has been an ever-present figure for Portsmouth this season, making 50 appearances in all competitions for the League One club as Pompey sit fourth in the league table and face a trip to Wembley Stadium this weekend for the EFL Trophy final against Sunderland.
It’s been a successful season for Pompey with Clarke at the centre of it, but what does the future hold for him?
Clarke has all the qualities and potential to be a defender that can go all the way to the top. At 6’0”, the former Ipswich Town player has the physicality to be an issue to deal with for strikers. Mar this with his ability to win most headers and command the back four well and you have a centre-back who could one day be desirable for Premier League teams.
The 22-year-old’s development, though, lies on where Portsmouth end up next season. If Kenny Jackett’s side are promoted to the Championship, Clarke will be able to test himself at a level he has not played at in nearly four years with Ipswich. However, with the Pompey man being one of the best defenders in League One, the transition into the second-division could be a smooth one.
The most likely outcome for Clarke’s future, though, is that he remains with Jackett’s side for a few more seasons. The defender has been handed the captain’s armband this season and has all the markings to be a long-term captain for Pompey for years to come.
Portsmouth, after all, are the team that gave Clarke a chance of first-team football and the defender has repaid them greatly, helping the club to promotion from League Two and now aiming to do the same thing again this season in League One.
Clarke has all the attributes needed to be a defender that can go all the way to the top, but it won’t be a surprise to see the 22-year-old centre-back remain at Portsmouth for the foreseeable future to help Jackett’s side get back to the glory days the club once had not too long ago.
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