This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Derby County look like they are finally turning a corner after going four matches unbeaten in the Championship, results that have seen Phillip Cocu’s side rise to 16th in the table, ahead of the visit of Luton Town this weekend.
With the Rams squad starting to gel, loan signing defender Matt Clarke is one who is adapting to life in the Championship, having joined on a season long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion.
But how has Clarke fared at Derby so far this season?
“When Derby signed Clarke on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer, it looked as if they had managed to pull off an incredibly shrewd bit of business.
“One of Portsmouth’s star performers last season in League One, the defender helped the club triumph in the EFL Trophy final before playing a key role in their push for the play-offs.
“However, despite being blessed with an abundance of talent, it is safe to say that Clarke has yet to adapt to life in the Championship with Derby.
“Although he has shown some occasional signs of promise, the 23-year-old will need to pick his performance levels if the Rams are to achieve a relative amount of success this season.”
“I think he’s done a decent job under some difficult circumstances.
“When he arrived in the summer he will have expected to be competing at the top of the table this season but that’s not the way things have gone for the Rams.
“Rather than being in the ascendancy for the majority of games, Derby have struggled and been on the back foot a lot.
“Within that, I think Clarke has given a pretty good account of himself, especially for a player settling into a new side.”
“I’d say that it has been a mixed start to life at Pride Park for Clarke.
“It was a fantastic signing when they first managed to lure him to Pride Park, as I thought that he would be playing for Brighton this season, he was that good for Portsmouth.
“In the first couple of games, he was excellent alongside Richard Keogh, but he seems to have lost his way a little bit in the last few weeks.
“Curtis Davies and Krystian Bielik have been impressive together recently, but there could be a chance for Clarke to come in and replace one of the pair, as i can’t see them playing three times in a week.”