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Clark hopes Man Utd win can be a springboard towards Ireland recall

The 30-year-old defender has yet to feature for the Boys in Green under current manager Mick McCarthy.

Ciaran Clark of Newcastle United (file pic).
Ciaran Clark of Newcastle United (file pic).
Image: Anthony Devlin

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND international Ciaran Clark got his first taste of Premier League action in nine months yesterday when Manchester United visited St James’ Park.

He made it count too, delivering a very solid display at the heart of the Newcastle United defence for the duration of their 1-0 win.

The opportunity had been a long time coming for Clark, whose only previous outing under new manager Steve Bruce came in a Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester City in August. 

“Personally for me it was great to be back out there,” he told Off The Ball’s Nathan Murphy after the game. “To get the win and the clean sheet was obviously brilliant. It was a fantastic performance from all the lads. I think it was a result that we deserved.”

Clark has also found himself on the periphery at international level this year, having yet to feature for Ireland since Mick McCarthy returned for a second tenure as manager.

The 30-year-old, who started in the Euro 2016 games against Sweden and Belgium, has been capped 31 times at senior level. However, he hasn’t played for the Boys in Green since the 4-1 hammering at the hands of Wales in the Nations League in September 2018. 

“For me personally it was all about trying to get into the Newcastle team for a start,” Clark said when asked about his international prospects. “If I’ve not been playing games, like some of the other lads, then you’re not going to get picked, which is fair enough.

“I spoke to [Mick McCarthy] a while back and he mentioned that. I knew that myself. Going into this season, it was all about trying to get games. It’s frustrating for me, not being able to play, because it doesn’t give me a chance to then go away and be involved with Ireland.

“I know now that obviously I’ve played the game [against Manchester United] and hopefully I can use this as a chance to really push on, hopefully get some more games and then hopefully be knocking on the door for the squad.”

McCarthy has been robbed of several central defensive options for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia (Saturday, 2.00pm) and Switzerland (Tuesday week, 7.45pm).

Derby County’s Richard Keogh and Darragh Lenihan of Blackburn Rovers are sidelined with injuries, while Brighton & Hove Albion’s Shane Duffy is doubtful due to a calf problem.

The Ireland boss said yesterday that he will wait for an update on Duffy’s fitness before finalising his squad, which may open the door for a late call-up for Clark.

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Paul Dollery

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