“He’s an impact sub,” said Leeds United fans about Jack Clarke after his appearances from the bench this season. They were pleading for him to start.
That pleading finally was heard tonight in a potentially tricky game against a Derby County side who were coming right back into form. It was a game that many Leeds fans would be forgiven for worrying about.
The Whites had suffered back-to-back defeats against Hull City (2-0) and Nottingham Forest (4-2) last time out for the first time this season. Injuries have continued to snap at Leeds, which meant a reshuffle in defence.
Normally a left winger, Gjanni Alioski dropped back in to the left-back position, not that you’d have overly noticed. Yet, that wasn’t the major change tonight that interested Leeds United fans.
The major interest in the Derby County game was the fact that Leeds United were going to give impressive youngster his first league start for the club. It was something the fans had been clamouring for, it was now something that they got.
Slideshow – Jack Clarke vs Derby County
Clarke sparks vs Derby County
Under the expectant eyes of around 33,500 Leeds United fans, plus Gareth Southgate and Aidy Boothroyd from the England set-up, Jack Clarke put on a show.
His first-half performance might not have sparked like his second-half did, but there were flashes of the potential that has reportedly seen four Premier League sides sit up and take interest.
Here’s a look at his first-half versus second-half production that earned him the Sky Sports Man-of-the-Match award.
Jack Clarke vs Derby County – first half/second-half
- Touches: 29/19
- Passes: 21/13
- Crosses: 2/4
- Final third passes: 10/11
- Successful dribbles: 1/
- Shots (on target): 1 (0)/0 (0)
Youngster Clarke had a game that simply fizzed at times in an electric second-half. All that contained potential, all that held back impact, all that anticipation from Leeds United fans; it was there in spades.
What it did scream loudest though was this – there’s no way that Jack Clarke should be coming off the bench for Leeds United.