Portsmouth captain Matthew Clarke has a never-say-die spirit and maturity that can see him climb the ladder
- Matthew Clarke can spur Portsmouth on to a strong finish this season
- The centre-back is a tall, left-footed player with good body strength
- At his age, 22, and with training ground application, he will improve further
Our scout is a top football expert who attends matches each week searching for the next star. He’ll bring you his verdict in Sportsmail. This week the man in the spotlight is Portsmouth defender Matthew Clarke.
WHAT HAS HE GOT?
Portsmouth have stalled lately in their promotion push in League One, although they have just secured a visit to Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
I would expect them to rally and finish well, spurred on by their captain Matthew Clarke.
Watching him closely I see leadership values and a never-say-die spirit. In a game I saw, he gave the ball away on the halfway line when he tried a difficult pass and the opposition sprang quickly into the Portsmouth box.
After stalling lately Matthew Clarke can spur Portsmouth on to a strong finish this season
Position: Central defender
In the crazy goal-mouth scramble that followed it was Clarke’s swinging left foot that cleared the danger — remarkably he had managed to retrieve his own mistake. He can sense danger.
A tall, left-footed player with good body strength, he sits on the left side of his centre back colleague Christian Burgess. The two of them understand each other’s games and look a formidable partnership.
When Burgess attacks the ball, Clarke covers him and vice versa. Although they trust each other they don’t take liberties.
With the ball, Clarke has several clubs in his bag. He can hit it long or play short, he can chip, drive and wedge with accuracy. At his age and with training ground application, he will improve further.
Watching the centre-back closely I see leadership values and a never-say-die spirit
WHAT DOES HE NEED?
His heading is strong from balls played down the middle and he clears with power. From crosses into the penalty area he is also confident but in this game the forward he was marking beat him to one and scored.
It may have been a blip but Clarke should learn to always get sideways on in those situations. When the ball is wide that will allow him to keep his eye on his opponent.
Against top opposition his pace on the turn may be tested but at this level he is not exposed and at close quarters his challenging, tackling and manoeuvring of the ball is excellent. For a 22-year-old, he shows a maturity that suggests he will climb the ladder.