Next season will be massive for Jack Clarke.
The winger is regarded as one of the top talents in the English game, but at 20 years of age he needs a big season to live up to the hype that’s been built around him.
After bursting onto the scene with Leeds United the 20-year-old completed a move to Tottenham Hotspur – a move that has arguably slowed down his progress as he looks to make a name for himself in the professional game.
Loan spells with Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City have followed during his time at North London, with his spell at Loftus Road being particularly frustrating due to a lack of match action.
After joining the Potters in the January transfer window Clarke looked like he was started to find his feet as he made 14 appearances for Michael O’Neill’s side, creating two goals in the process.
But unfortunately a post on Instagram confirmed that his time with Stoke had come to an end after returning to Tottenham for treatment on an ankle injury.
While recovery is the initial objective, it seems that Clarke has some decisions to make as he prepares for the summer transfer window.
Staying with Tottenham Hotspur is undoubtedly one of the options.
Spurs are Clarke’s employers and so they’ll have the opportunity to run the rule over the player during pre-season before deciding if he’s ready to play a role for Jose Mourinho’s side next term.
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While sticking around could see him get match action at a higher level, it’s likely that minutes will be hard to come by which could be detrimental for his development.
After impressing with Stoke City it’ll be a surprise if they don’t come back in for him.
Michael O’Neill’s side seemingly have big hopes for next season as they look to challenge for promotion, and if they’re to do that they’ll need to star quality to see them through a long, hard season.
O’Neill knows how to get the best from Clarke and that could prove to be pivotal in luring him back to the Bet365 Stadium next term – particularly if the winger can be offered regular match action.
Playing on a regular basis has to be the number one priority for the 20-year-old and so he could do a lot worse than linking up with Stoke City once again as he prepares for a season where he’ll be determined to show his undoubted quality.