Following Tuesday evening’s win over Blackburn, Steve Bruce had some words of praise for Ciaran Clark.
The ex-Aston Villa man started against the Championship outfit in what was his first game since mid February, where he was withdrawn against Arsenal with an injury and missed the remainder of the campaign.
Given how rusty he ought to have been, Clark excelled.
Bruce said that the Republic of Ireland international was ‘the big one’ for him and also branded the 30-year-old as ‘immaculate’ against Tony Mowbray’s men.
As quoted by Newcastle’s Twitter account, the 59-year-old said: ‘Mark Gillespie was given away as a 16-year old so it was a big night for him on his debut and he was arguably our best player. Ciaran Clark was the big one for me – I thought he was immaculate considering he hadn’t played since around last Christmas time.’
SB: "Mark Gillespie was given away as a 16-year old so it was a big night for him on his debut and he was arguably our best player. Ciaran Clark was the big one for me – I thought he was immaculate considering he hadn't played since around last Christmas time." pic.twitter.com/XpLFRbdgJi
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 15, 2020
Now, the centre-back’s timely return to some kind of form could potentially help soften a recent transfer blow.
Sky Sports reported that we were in talks with Arsenal over a deal for Rob Holding.
However, following excellent displays in the Gunners’ Community Shield win over Liverpool and Premier League victory over Fulham, Mikel Arteta has told the 24-year-old that he is ‘not going anywhere‘.
That surely would’ve come as a blow for Bruce and Lee Charnley. It goes without saying that entering talks with Arsenal proves we were keen to land the ex-Bolton man. However, that looks dead in the water.
Having said that, it should no longer be deemed as a negative thanks to Clark’s impressive return.
With Bruce using a 4-4-2 system in our first two games, it seems like we’ll no longer be playing with three centre-backs, for now anyway.
In that respect, we can rest easy in the knowledge that Clark is back to being game-ready, while Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez also provide healthy competition for the two central roles.