It appears to be a case of third time lucky for Jack Clarke after once again departing Tottenham on loan in January.
Starting the 2019/20 season back at Leeds United after joining Spurs on a permanent deal from the West Yorkshire club, the winger headed to QPR on loan at the start of 2020 after only making three appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
The York-born player’s minutes did improve in west London but he spent the vast majority of his time coming off the bench in games rather than starting from the off for Mark Warburton.
Remaining at Tottenham at the start of this term to show Jose Mourinho what he could do, Clarke appeared in three games for Spurs in the Europa League and FA Cup but it was clear that he needed to secure a temporary move away to up his pitch time.
Now at Stoke City, the youngster is featuring regularly for the Potters in his quest to impress the coaching staff back at his parent club.
So how exactly is he getting on at present in Staffordshire? football.london caught with up Stoke-on-Trent Live’s Stoke City reporter Pete Smith to get the lowdown on the 20-year-old.
How has Jack Clarke done at Stoke City since January?
He’s shown glimpses of what he might offer, at his best when he running at defenders. At the moment, he’s probably been more useful drawing fouls than getting killer deliveries into the final third but he’s been unlucky not to have a few assists to his name.
A couple of his crosses which have been converted have been chalked off for marginal offside calls and he’s also been unlucky that Steven Fletcher and Tyrese Campbell, Stoke’s main strikers, have either been playing through pain or out injured.
Stoke’s xG, if you’re into that kind of thing, is 1.43 when he’s playing but they’ve only averaged 0.83 actual goals.
Is he now starting to look more like the confident player that impressed at Leeds initially as he had two frustrating loan spells last campaign?
Yes, well, much more like it than he was last season. He’s had significantly more game time at Stoke than he got back at Leeds and with QPR combined.
He’s been involved in most games and he’s looked confident and match fit even if he hadn’t started a league game for two years before arriving.
What does he need to do to start more regularly as he’s only started six from 14 in the league?
Probably be more ruthless. Stoke need their wingers to supply goals and assists pretty regularly if they’re going with a 4-3-3 and that what will be his currency.
Has Michael O’Neill been impressed by him so far?
He’s been fairly complimentary while recognising that Clarke is still only 20, saying last month: “We’ve been pleased with what Jack’s contribution has been. There are areas he has to improve on still but he’s a very talented young player.
“In terms of being out on loan, he’s played more minutes than he has on previous loans so he’s still adapting a little bit. But he’s a young player 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 on a longer-term basis.”
O’Neill has emphasised too that Clarke might have to be a little patient at times. In the last couple of games Stoke have gone back to 3-5-2 so that’s counted against him.
What have the club’s supporters made of him in his short time at the club?
Fairly positive but it’s fair to say there would be more excitement if he was Stoke’s own 20-year-old prospect. He’s added energy and youth up front, which was what was needed, but no one is quite sure if how much of his potential we’ll see at Stoke.
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Do you think he could be a Stoke player once again come next season and would that be the right option for him?
Loans are such an important market for Championship clubs because of the Financial Fair Play rules. You need them to fizz.
Clarke can probably be a game changer at some point down the line but how soon can you rely on him to do that fairly regularly?
There’s no doubt he would benefit from a season in the Championship… but Stoke’s priority will be trying to build a squad to challenge for promotion rather than develop someone else’s player. If he does re-sign it will be a big show of faith.