Clarke needs to knock on Keane again

EXILED Blues striker Billy Clarke showed as a young teenager he was not afraid to knock on the legendary Roy Keane's door to tell him he too was going to be a professional footballer.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

EXILED Blues striker Billy Clarke showed as a young teenager he was not afraid to knock on the legendary Roy Keane's door to tell him he too was going to be a professional footballer.

Nearly seven years later Clarke will need to pluck up the courage to knock on his door again - this time to let him know he wants his future to be with him at Ipswich Town.

The story goes that Clarke, brought up in Cork not far from where Keane also grew up and lived, was so chuffed when he was told he was being taken on by the Blues academy he walked up to the Manchester United captain's house, to tell him 'I'm going to be a professional footballer just like you'.

The kindly Keane wished him well and offered him words of encouragement and the young Clarke went home feeling 10 foot tall.

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But after achieving that ambition to become a pro, and this season hitting 16 goals with three different clubs, Clarke was told by Jim Magilton he would not be offered a new contract when his current deal expired in the summer.

The Ulsterman's departure, followed by the Republic of Ireland man's arrival, gives Clarke renewed hope that he can stay with the Blues.

The 21-year-old said: “I've done well whenever I've been, but regardless of what I think, it is up to whoever manages the club next year as to where I'll be. It is completely out of my hands.

“I've been told I can leave Ipswich. I've had six great years there and it has come to an end, but that happens in football. Hopefully something can get sorted before the end of the season.

“I haven't a clue where I'll end up. It could be here, Ipswich or Timbuktu. Nothing his been said to me so far. We'll probably get Saturday out of the way and then find out about the rest of my career.”

It would not hurt his cause to knock on Keane's door once more and outline his case. Sentiment won't come into it but Keane will know how his fellow Cork lad has been doing and it is highly probable that Bryan Klug will fight his corner.

Brentford boss Andy Scott is yet to declare an interest in Clarke, who has impressed at Darlington, Northampton Town and the Bees.

Clarke has been in fine form for Brentford since his arrival and has played a large part in helping the club maintain its push towards the title, despite the string of injuries Scott's squad has suffered in recent weeks.

And he is relishing the chance to be part of a promotion winning campaign, despite Tuesday's disappointing defeat where he was one of his side's brighter sparks.

“It is great be involved in something like this. It is what every player wants,” he added.

“At the end of the day any player in teams outside of the Premiership wants to be promoted. Tuesday wasn't about me continuing my scoring it was about winning the game and getting promoted.

“The fans have every right to be disappointed with the way we played.”

Like Jordan Rhodes before him Clarke can play a big part in helping Brentford win promotion to league One, and even win the title and that could open a door or two for him.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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