This has been a tough start to the season for Newcastle United centre back Ciaran Clark, who has often found himself on the outside looking in under new head coach Steve Bruce.
Prior to Sunday’s victory over Manchester United he had made just one appearance this term, coming in the Carabao Cup against Leicester City. However, he came back in against the Red Devils and produced a strong performance.
That was what he needed, because he has become exasperated with his lack of game time, telling Off The Ball recently: “It’s obviously frustrating for me not being able to play because it doesn’t give me a chance then to go away and play for Ireland.”
That is the big thing for Clark, because he obviously has aspirations to continue to be a regular player for the Republic of Ireland. However, does Sunday’s performance perhaps indicate that a Magpies resurgence is on the cards?
He certainly performed well against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. The statistics show us that the 30-year-old was a key player as Bruce’s men battled to a terrific 1-0 victory.
As per WhoScored.com, Clark completed two tackles, two interceptions and two clearances in the game. Only Jetro Willems made more tackles for Newcastle, while only Fabian Schar had more interceptions. Then there’s clearances: only Schar and DeAndre Yedlin produced more.
His pass success rate of 72.7% wasn’t the best, but that’s not what he’s in the team for. Schar is the ball-playing centre half, Clark is in there to be a solid, dogged presence at the heart of the defence.
Paul Dummett obviously hasn’t done enough for Bruce’s liking, while Jamaal Lascelles hasn’t been at his best this season. So there is a chance for Clark to nail down a permanent starting spot if he can continue what he started against United.