Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Natural centre-half' Clark happy to play anywhere

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Ciaran Clark believes he is more comfortable at centre-half but has no complaints about being included at left-back for tonight's friendly meeting with Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium.

The Aston Villa man offers versatility and, given his Premier League experience in the heart of defence, it was a surprise that he missed out on Saturday's win over Macedonia at the expense of Darren O'Dea.

However, Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni made it clear yesterday that he feels that Clark (21) is a bit young for a protracted run in that position, arguing that his club manager Gerard Houllier had chosen to use him in other roles.

In the absence of Richard Dunne, Stephen Kelly will partner O'Dea in the middle of the back four tonight.

Either way, Clark is satisfied to be involved, and has an opportunity against the Uruguayans to stake a long-term claim in the full-back role.

"At the moment, my more natural position is centre-half but I'm happy to play anywhere if picked," said Clark.

"I'm not disappointed (to miss out at centre-half)... I'm just happy to be out there. It's great just for me to be involved in the squad and in or around the team. I'm just looking to gain as much as experience as I can."

Clark enjoyed his Ireland debut against Wales last month and acknowledges that facing the World Cup semi-finalists will be a different proposition altogether.

He was impressed by the exploits of the Uruguayans in South Africa.

"Obviously, (Luis) Suarez and (Diego) Forlan were the two stick-out players," he says. "Suarez isn't going to be involved, but I'm sure they'll have some great players."

Last summer, the London-born lad -- whose parents both grew up in Ireland -- was relatively unknown, with just one senior club appearance under his belt. Now, he's on a different plane.

"At the start of the season, I wouldn't have expected to be where I am now, after my last season where I didn't really get many opportunities to show what I can do," he suggested.

"This year I've been given my chance, firstly by Kevin MacDonald and then by Gerard Houllier.

"They've been great to me and the rest of the young lads at Aston Villa and we're all grateful for that."

Irish Independent

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