Clarke: ‘’Hopeful to be involved at some stage’’ this summer
Ciaran Clark is not thinking too far ahead to the European Championships in France this summer, yet is hopeful to emerge from the Bosnian fog and play a part in the soaking sun. Clark recalls a time: ‘’where people thought we couldn’t do it anymore’’ but proudly states in typical underdog fashion: ‘’we proved them wrong and managed to get there.’’ A feat perhaps he hopes to accomplish on an individual basis in the coming months, yet he himself and the squad will be ‘’concentrating on club football and staying injury free.’’
Unfortunately for Clark and his club Aston Villa, they lie bottom of the Premiership on 16 points and with next placed Sunderland a gap of seven points away, relegation seems ominous. Liverpool inflicted the heaviest Premier League defeat of 6–0 to the Villains on valentine’s day. With Clark an un-used sub that day like for much of this season there seems to be little love or faith for the Irish International from manager Rémi Garde, who is loyal to selecting the partnership of Richards and Lescott in the heart of the defence.
‘’Looking forward to the Summer’’
Clark is hoping that O’Neill will give him a chance as he did when he was head boss at Villa Park, handing him his debut in 2009 against Fulham. But on the pitch O’Shea and Keogh have been most consistently selected to marshal the Irish defence throughout the majority of the euro 2016 qualifying campaign. Ireland finished third in the group behind table toppers Germany and Poland with Scotland close by in fourth. Crucial points were picked up, unforgettably the four points against Germany to guarantee Ireland a playoff spot against Bosnia. Clark started in Zenica against Bosnia in the fog alongside Richard Keogh in the absence of the suspended O’Shea. Up against world class striker Eden Dzeko that night, Clark stood firm and showed no signs of the repercussions the lack of first team football would seem to highlight against opposition of such calibre. Has he given O’Neill something to ponder? ‘’I’d like to think so yeah…we did fairly well.’’ A modest assessment of the performance while cementing the importance of the team first and foremost as a working unit.
Clark is not looking too far ahead, yet is hopeful and excited of what may unfold in the coming months. ‘’It’s about staying lucky and staying injury free, and being able to play a part in it.’’ If that is to happen he needs to play a part in Villa’s battle to ascend from the pit of the Premier League table one would think. Currently he is still sitting tight waiting to be called upon for regular game time. Yet it seems he is still in the dark. Time will tell if the fog will lift.