Teenage forward Clarke very much in Leeds United coach Christiansen’s thoughts

Jack Clarke has trained alongside Leeds United's first-team players under the watchful eye of head coach, Thomas Christiansen. Picture: Varleys.
Jack Clarke has trained alongside Leeds United's first-team players under the watchful eye of head coach, Thomas Christiansen. Picture: Varleys.
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YOUNG striker Jack Clarke could be given an opportunity with the first team in the current campaign with head coach Thomas Christiansen having been keen to keep the teenager’s talents hidden until a professional deal at Leeds United was signed.

Highly-rated 17-year-old academy graduate Clarke signed his first professional contract with Leeds on Thursday with the teenager penning terms as part of a deal that initially runs until 2021.

The youngster has already trained with United’s first team and Christiansen has revealed he resisted a temptation to give the striker a debut in October’s Carabao Cup tie at Leicester City for fear of him catching the eye of other clubs.

Clarke had signed a two-year scholarship at Leeds in May, but impressive performances for United’s Under-18s and Under-23s led to United tying up the forward to a professional contract on his 17th birthday.

Born in York, he will initially remain with the Under-18s and Under-23s, although Christiansen admits the teenager has already been in his thoughts, having beaten off interest from Premier League clubs to secure a professional contract.

“He’s a player we’ve followed and I’ve had up with the team for training several times,” said Christiansen. “He was a player I wanted to put in the squad for the cup game against Leicester, but we were afraid that he would come in and score a goal.

“We didn’t have the contract (with him) so we preferred to wait until that was assured. He’s a very interesting player, who we can build up.”

Clarke’s representative is former Leeds left-back Ian Harte, who has already predicted a bright future for the talented teenager.

Asked if Clarke could even get a chance with the first team between now and the end of next season, Christiansen admitted: “I will not exclude that.”

After signing his first pro deal on Thursday, Clarke said: “I feel like I’ve got a good support behind me at the Academy. I wouldn’t want to leave when I’ve got everything I want right here”.

I wanted to put him in the squad for the cup game against Leicester, but we were afraid that he would come in and score a goal. We didn’t have the contract (with him) so we preferred to wait until that was assured.

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