This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Regular Punter’ series, where we gather original opinions from select, passionate fans of the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…
Football League World’s Derby County fan pundit Matt Bailey has said the loan signing of centre-back Matt Clarke is exactly what the Rams needed.
Clarke officially moved to Pride Park on a season-long loan from Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday and, having checked out his numbers, is somebody Bailey expects to really add to Phillip Cocu’s side.
“I have had a look at the stats that Matt Clarke produced for Portsmouth last season and I have got to say I am really impressed,” the regular punter told Football League World.
“The one thing that has stood out for me is his aerial presence having won almost 100% of his aerial duels last season which is something that Derby have missed.
“We conceded so many goals from crosses last season, so an aerially dominant centre-back is exactly what we need.”
Under Frank Lampard’s guidance, Pride Park saw an impressive partnership form between Richard Keogh and Fikayo Tomori last season.
But with the latter having returned to Chelsea, it has left the Rams with just two senior centre-backs; Keogh and the injury-riddled Curtis Davies.
George Evans has deputised in the role during pre-season but has left Bailey unconvinced, with the fan pundit believing that because of this, Clarke could play a big part in the coming campaign.
“I can definitely see him becoming a regular under Cocu,” he said.
“Evans, as much as he is a good ball player from the back, he is perhaps not the best defensively and with Curtis Davies having missed pretty much all of last season he has still got to get himself back to full fitness.
“I also think that Clarke’s ability with the ball is something that will bring him into Cocu’s plans as he is happy to drive the team forward from the back and has decent passing ability with a forward pass accuracy of almost 90% last season.”
With the Clarke deal now official, the 22-year-old becomes Cocu’s third summer addition, following Kieran Dowell and Graeme Shinnie into the club.
But Bailey does not want to see the recruitment drive stop there, feeling there is still a large gap left to be filled out wide.
“I still think that we need another winger to come in as we have yet to replace Harry Wilson,” he said.
“We need to get those goals from somewhere.
“We need more competition in the wide areas so the lads that have got the shirts at the moment don’t get comfortable and complacent.”