Ipswich Town legend Ray Crawford praises impact of Matt Clarke at Portsmouth

Matt Clarke, right. Photo: The Portsmouth News/Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke, right. Photo: The Portsmouth News/Joe Pepler - Credit: Bluepitch Media / Joe Pepler

Ipswich Town legend Ray Crawford has hailed young Blues loanee Matt Clarke’s contribution at Portsmouth, following the teenager’s summer loan switch to the League Two promotion hopefuls.

Pompey-born Crawford, Town’s all-time leading scorer, also played for his home-town club and is a regular watcher of Paul Cook’s team, especially at Fratton Park.

Having fallen from grace in recent years, the south coast club are battling to return to their former glories and currently sit fourth from top in the fourth tier of English football.

Clarke, 19, has been an ever-present in the Pompey defence, the club having only lost one league game so far, and Crawford is convinced the Town academy product has a bright future.

“He (Clarke) looks beyond his years,” said Crawford.

“He uses the ball well, is good in the air, likes a tackle and is one of our best players.

“He is up for the physical challenge and has not been out-muscled at all and I don’t think there is anyone that could take his place in the team at the moment.

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“If he was missing, they (Portsmouth) would have to go out and get another loan player.”

He added: “In some respects he is similar to me when I was starting out as he is afraid of giving the ball away and looks to give the ball to more senior players, but he has done a tremendous job.”

Clarke has made four substitute appearances for Town so far in the Championship and just one start in the Capital One Cup, but should be capable of making the step up, according to Crawford.

However, Blues fans will not get a chance to see Clarke in an Ipswich shirt until January, when his loan spell expires with the 2008 FA Cup winners.

“Without a doubt, he would do a job, as he does not get carried away attacking the ball,” Crawford revealed.

“The good thing about him is he is a left-footer too and there are not many of those around.”

Despite losing just once this season, Pompey have drawn five games, including three times at Fratton Park.

Crawford says Clarke is learning all about what it takes to play for a top-of-the-table team and the frustration it can bring.

“We do well away from home, but when we play at Fratton Park teams are coming and playing with 10 at the back,” Crawford explained.

“We are dominating 85% of the games, but we are missing someone at the moment who can get in around the back of defences.”

Clarke is one of three Ipswich players out on-loan at the moment.

Winger, Cameron Stewart is currently playing for League One Doncaster, while ex-Cardiff City youngster Josh Yorwerth has played two games for Crawley Town in League Two, having made three appearances in the Capital One Cup for Town this season.

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