Leiston sign former Ipswich Town and Bury Town midfielder Billy Clark

Billy Clark in action for former club Bury Town

Billy Clark in action for former club Bury Town - Credit: Archant

Leiston manager Richard Wilkins hopes new signing Billy Clark can return to his pre-injury form after handing the former Bury Town playmaker a one-year deal with the Ryman Premier League side.

Clark, 23, has been out of action since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in Bury’s 1-0 defeat at Wingate & Finchley in March 2014.

However, after asking to train with Leiston and his ex-Ram Meadow boss this summer, the former Ipswich Town youngster, who underwent an operation as a result, has done enough to convince Wilkins that he can carry on where he left off.

Wilkins knows all about Clark’s talent, but despite that, the Blues manager is reluctant to rush the Ipswich-born player’s comeback, having had a similar injury during his playing days.

“It’s going to be a bit of a process with Billy,” said Wilkins.

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“He will probably need six games to get near full fitness, but he is a great player, a unique player that makes things happen.

“It will take him a bit of time to get back into things but he will make us stronger and has already shown glimpses this pre-season.

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“But I know how long a process it is, having had the same injury, sometimes your calf or patella will play up or your hamstring will tighten.”

Clark could feature in tonight’s friendly at Ipswich Wanderers, before the Blues’ friendlies at home to Colchester under-21s next Wednesday and at Heybridge Swifts a week on Saturday.

The Blues recorded a superb result on Wednesday, the hosts defeating Lowestoft Town 6-2 at Victory Road.

Ex-Trawlerboy Joe Francis scored a hat-trick while there were also goals for Darren Mills, Christy Finch and Jack Baker.

Wilkins assessed the game, saying: “I thought we reacted well to a tired and lethargic defeat at Hadleigh.

“The boys put in a good shift and were well organised.

“I don’t really make too much of pre-season games though.”

He added: “Christy Finch played really well and made a couple of goals, he looks a natural to me, while Joe Francis looked like the Joe of old. He was positive, strong and made the right decisions at the right time.”

Leon Ottley-Gooch is likely to miss tonight’s game, John Sands is still recovering from a double hernia operation and the aforementioned misses out due to work commitments.

Gareth Heath could return though.

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