Marcelo Bielsa provides glowing Jack Clarke update quizzed on Tottenham Hotspur recall reports for Leeds United loanee
TOTTENHAM Hotspur paid big bucks to land winger Jack Clarke from Leeds United this summer.
An initial fee of £9m for the 18-year-old who burst on to the scene in his first season with the Whites first team.
A big leap immediately to the Premier League with questions raised as Spurs initially circled just how much game time the teen would be granted in north London.
Spurs and Leeds reached a sensible conclusion - another season back on loan at Elland Road - yet game time and even bench appearances have been limited.
After only 115 minutes of football in the Carabao Cup, Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa was quizzed about reports that Tottenham would consequently be taking the teen back in January.
Bielsa, though, hinted that Clarke’s lack of involvement at Leeds could soon be about to change and that in any case the competitive nature of his squad will always leave big talents outside the starting XI and even match-day 18.
In Clarke’s case, the teen is competing for a spot with Pablo Hernandez, Helder Costa and Jack Harrison.
Asked about reports that Spurs may look to recall Clarke in January, Bielsa said: “Always the source of the news is the most important. When you have a team of 20 players, you give a lot of opportunity to each of those 20 players.
“I am really satisfied with Jack Clarke’s development, he’s at a good fitness level. Technically he is complete and his attitude is very good.
“He competes with Costa, Hernandez, Harrison. If one of them are left in the team and Clarke is participating after - we were going to listen to news about Costa, Hernandez, Harrison.
“I am satisfied working with Clarke and I am sure he’s going to be necessary and important for us.
“The only way to answer to this news is if Clarke who is saying that or some authority of Tottenham.”
A rapid rise for Clarke began with his Leeds United debut as a 70th-minute substitute in the 1-1 draw at home to Brentford last October.
A memorable first goal followed in the 3-2 success at Aston Villa two months later before a full Whites debut in the 2-1 loss at QPR in January in the FA Cup third round.
That outing came just five days after Clarke’s second goal for the Whites in the 4-2 loss at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.
A first league start then presented itself in the 2-0 win at home to Derby County on January 11 with Clarke also lining up from the off in the subsequent clashes at Stoke City, Rotherham United and Middlesbrough but it was at the Riverside that the teen’s season and moreover health took a turn for the worse.
After being substituted at half-time, the winger fell unwell on the bench with Clarke requiring medical treatment and given oxygen before being carried from the Riverside on a stretcher and immediately transferred for treatment at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital.
Clarke returned home the same night but a series of medical tests in London followed before the winger returned to training three weeks later.
Eight more outings from the bench followed before Spurs made their move and Bielsa is mindful just how much disruption last season’s health scare caused.
Only two outings in Carabao Cup ties have followed so far this term with Clarke only making the bench for United’s first two league games but Bielsa again highlighted the importance of Clarke when quizzed about the returning Luke Ayling.
Ayling is nearing a return from an ankle operation with the defender twice playing for United’s under-23s this week.
“The fact that he’s close to use again, for us is really important,” said Bielsa.
“The same with Clarke. Clarke is a player full of skills and he operated impressively last season but was interrupted for health problems. Now again he’s at his best level but when you have to test the absence of one player it’s necessary to consider if he plays, which other player has to leave the XI.
“Now we have to analyse if Pablo is not in the team or if Helder is not in the team or Jack. And after we were going to have in the newspaper that City would stop the loan of Jack Harrison, as an example!
“I understand those comments are normal but also it’s important to consider what he’s saying now.”