Huddersfield Town: Tom Clarke inteview

It was a case of third time unlucky for Tom Clarke last year with a third knee injury keeping him out of the Terriers first-team picture for the entire first half of the season.

Now, though, the defender is back rocking and rolling – and at least had company on the sidelines with his Terriers team-mate older brother!

Town Academy product Clarke re-lived an old injury nightmare back in May when limping off with a knee injury in the play-off first leg against Millwall.

Huddersfield's campaign then ended in misery with a 2-0 loss in the second leg and so too did Clarke's with the defender learning he would need surgery on his right anterior cruciate ligament and would face six months on the sidelines.

It was the third such injury of the Yorkshireman's career and the 23-year-old ace admits spending the second half of 2010 on the sidelines was hardly a barrel of laughs but the Town ace at least had a crocked companion in older brother Nathan – also out with a knee injury at the same time.

And, living only eight miles away from each other, Clarke admits there was at least time for the odd game of snooker and pool!

Now both Clarkes are back in the frame that matters most – the Huddersfield first team one – and the younger Clarke can at least now

look back on his injury nightmare with something of a smile.

"He was out for a couple of months with a knee injury and it was nice to have some company!" Clarke told Yorkshire Sport this week.

"It's never nice being out and having to watch but at least he was out as well! It's better than being on your own I suppose.

"He's over in Huddersfield now and I'm in Halifax but we had a few games of pool and snooker.

"Now it's great to be back and it's what I've worked hard for. It's good that it's finally paid off.

"It was gutting being out and as soon as I heard the news it was a big blow for me and my family.

"As I've done it before I knew what I would have to go through but I just knew that I had to crack on, to get on with the rehab and to work hard at coming back from the injury.

"I just wanted to get back to where I was before the injury and I've managed to do that in the time frame that the surgeon gave me.

"Now I'm back in and the games are coming thick and fast but I've managed to get in there and do all right."

The return of the Clarke brothers came almost in tandem, with Tom back for the 4-1 loss at Southampton on December 28 and his older brother returning to the fray on New Year's Day's 2-2 draw at Carlisle United – the siblings both playing 90 minutes in the latter.

That outing remained Nathan's sole appearance of the season heading into yesterday's home clash with Colchester but the younger Clarke was set for his sixth outing of the year already yesterday and says he is already nearing full match sharpness.

"I'm nearly there and I'm just trying to work as hard as I can in training as I did in the gym," he said.

"Training is important.

"I've played a couple of games now and I feel like I'm on my way to getting full fitness so it's good."

That Clarke will want to be fully-fit next weekend is a no-brainer – the Terriers set to visit the mighty Arsenal for a mouthwatering tie in the FA Cup fourth round.

But while the defender admits the encounter is truly one to whet the appetites there will be no star-gazing or stage fright with Clarke part of the FA Cup Town team of 2005-06 that heroically went out 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, the Halifax-born ace even hopes he is marking Robin Van Persie, desperate to rise to the challenge!

"It was a good game to watch on Wednesday night to obviously see who we were going to get," said Clarke of the Leeds versus Arsenal replay.

"We've got Arsenal and we've been away before to places like Everton

and Chelsea so it's going to be nice to go somewhere different in the Emirates and try to win the game. It will be good."

Asked if he will be marking RVP he added: "I hope so!

"It was brilliant seeing him come on and Fabregas and as soon as they came on they changed the game.

"It will be a tough ask but we've shown we can do it before with the likes of Chelsea so we will go there full of confidence.

"We're doing well in the league and in another cup competition so hopefully we'll do well in that as well."

That Huddersfield are doing well on three fronts cannot be argued, the Terriers very much in the League One automatic promotion race as well as in the FA Cup fourth round and Johnstone's Paint Trophy northern area final.

Town have a mountain to climb in the latter having lost Tuesday night's first leg 4-0 but Clarke is pleased with Town's current position as a whole – insisting the 4-0 deficit can yet be overturned and that Town are more than capable of serving it up to automatic promotion favourites Southampton and Brighton.

"It's exciting times to be at Huddersfield, we're doing well in the league and we're grinding out results despite not playing to our best really," said Clarke.

"We're still coming away with results and that's what we've got to do.

"It was disappointing the other night at Carlisle but if any team can come back at home it's us.

"Hopefully we'll go there against Carlisle and score a few goals like we know we can do at home."

Assessing the league picture he added: "We've got a really squad and so have the likes of Southampton and Brighton.

"But I think there's only really us who can match them and cope with all the games with the resources we have got, we have got a big squad and we can handle it.

"It's going to be tough as Southampton and Brighton are doing well but there's no reason why can't in those top two places.

"That's what we're going to try and do and with the resources and the squad we have got here, I can't see why not."

Maximum confidence from one-club man Clarke, who also cannot see his future away Huddersfield Town.

Asked about his long-term future, Clarke pondered: "I just want to stay at Huddersfield and hopefully hold down a regular first-team place."

"Hopefully I can stay clear of injury, work hard and hopefully in the years to come we'll be in the Championship with Huddersfield Town.

"Hopefully we can do well in there and push on from there really."

HELLO: Paul Heckingbottom, left and Thomas Christiansen.

Video: Leeds United handed added incentive for derby duel with Barnsley