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Ciaran Clark: Newcastle defender wanted to fight for his place despite Sheffield United talks

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Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has revealed the Championship club spoke to Ciaran Clark about a move in January but the defender wanted to fight for his place at St James’ Park. 

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On Wednesday, the Republic of Ireland international became the fourth player to leave St James’ Park this summer. Clark, an important figure in the promotion of 2016/17 and the first few years back in the Premier League, follows Isaac Hayden, Freddie Woodman and Jeff Hendrick out of the exit doors, albeit three of those are only on loan deals.

In an ideal world of course, these players would be leaving either for a fee or on heavily subsided wages. Still, Championship sides have previously stressed they aren’t willing to pay “Premier League contracts” and Clark was (via SpotRac) picking up a wage of around £35k-per-week.

With the signing of first Dan Burn and more recently Sven Botman, competition for places became even harder. Even before either had arrived, Eddie Howe’s first-choice central defensive partnership was Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar, making it almost impossible to see a way in which Clark got himself back into the team.

Left out of the 25-man Premier League squad in January, Clark’s last act as a Newcastle player (Saudi Arabian friendly aside) was being sent off in what looked like a relegation six-pointer against Norwich City.

What did Heckingbottom say about Clark?

Speaking to the club’s official media channel after his move, the Blades boss said of Clark: “We spoke briefly in January when he fell out of the team but he wanted to back into that team at Newcastle and worked hard.


“But this season he knows his chances are going to be limited so he wanted to go out on loan.”

How should Clark be remembered as a Newcastle player?

With his contract set to expire in 2023 anyway, it seems incredibly unlikely to imagine Clark playing for Newcastle ever again.

While his red card against Norwich was infuriating at the time – and his dismissal in a friendly against Al-Ittihad genuinely quite shocking given the nature of the trip to the Gulf state – it did pave the way for Joelinton to move into midfield, which turned out to be a huge moment in Newcastle’s season.

Other more tangible contributions came during the Rafa Benitez era. Indeed, Clark made 128 appearances for Newcastle – 72 of which came under the Spaniard – and was largely a mainstay of the first-team in the Championship and beyond.

All in all, Clark should be remembered fondly.

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