Jack Clarke, amongst others, has impressed for the under twenty-three side for a few seasons – and at 20-years-old, it’s likely he could be involved in first team plans in the near future.
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One thing is for certain at Aston Villa, and that’s the abundance of young talent the club holds within its under twenty-three and under eighteen squads. There has been a large number of talents in previous decades that have come through the clubs youth system, and whether they’ve made an impact at Aston Villa or not, a number of them find themselves within the Premier League, Sky Bet Championship and even the wider reaches of Europe like the Swedish Allsvenskan.
This season, through injuries, has seen the likes of Dominic Revan called up to the senior squad to offer cover during the clubs defensive crisis – as well as youngster Jacob Ramsey – who looks to be a bright talent, called up to the bench a few times this season and even making an appearance in the Midlands match-up against West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park.
But there’s one player who has been making waves at under twenty-three level for a number of years that hasn’t truly been afforded the opportunity that he deserves, and that’s Jack Clarke.
The classy midfielder has taken the armband from Jordan Lyden this season, who departed on loan to Oldham before returning in January – only to get a season ending injury just a week later and then be told that his contract would not be renewed.
Clarke has been a mainstay in the under twenty-three side for a couple of years now, and racks up numbers that a senior midfielder would be proud of.
This season alone, the 20-year-old has appeared seventeen times after recovering from an injury, scoring twice and assisting five in just under 1,500 minutes of football.
Surprisingly at Clarke’s age, it’s interesting that he hasn’t had a sniff of first team football other than pre-season friendlies, and it’s also surprising that he hasn’t gone out on loan like his peers Callum O’Hare, Corey Blackett-Taylor and Jake-Doyle Hayes.
In the most recent youth side outing against Wolves, which saw Jack Clarke captain his side to a 1-0 win over Midlands rivals, providing the much needed glue to hold the midfield together as his team-mates pushed further forward. He wasn’t shy in the tackle either.
With Clarke, and a number of his team-mates out of contract in the summer, it will be interesting to see who leaves and who stays – but the midfielder was scouted by the same man who discovered Jack Grealish, as the boys attended the same school but years apart – and with the plaudits Clarke has been receiving, it’d be an odd choice to see him leave.