Former Newcastle United midfielder makes St James’ Park return — two years after exit

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The former Newcastle United midfielder was included in Liverpool’s travelling party for the Premier League fixture at St James’ Park.

One of the final disappointments under the Mike Ashley era at Newcastle United was the loss of talented teenager Bobby Clark to Liverpool.

Clark, son of Magpies legend Lee, had emerged as one of the country’s hottest prospects by playing above his age group and establishing himself as an England youth international.

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However, in August 2021, the club failed to hold onto the boyhood Newcastle fan, who moved to Anfield for a reported £1.5million. That, a perfect example of United’s static state under the previous owner.

Bobby Clark of Liverpool controls the ball under pressure from Arijon Ibrahimovic of Bayern Muenchen during the pre-season friendly match between Liverpool and Bayern Muenchen at the National Stadium on August 02, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images)Bobby Clark of Liverpool controls the ball under pressure from Arijon Ibrahimovic of Bayern Muenchen during the pre-season friendly match between Liverpool and Bayern Muenchen at the National Stadium on August 02, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images)
Bobby Clark of Liverpool controls the ball under pressure from Arijon Ibrahimovic of Bayern Muenchen during the pre-season friendly match between Liverpool and Bayern Muenchen at the National Stadium on August 02, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Of course, the differences between then and now are stark. Since arriving as sporting director last year, Dan Ashworth has helped restructure the academy from top to bottom by creating a number of coaching, recruitment and scouting positions.

Things have moved on significantly since Clark’s departure but Sunday was perhaps a reminder of the one that got away. The 18-year-old, although wasn’t named in the matchday squad, warmed up with Liverpool’s substitutes prior to their dramatic 2-1 win at St James’ Park.

“I don’t know the situation around Bobby - I don’t know the detail around it – but, ultimately, our goal is to make sure we do attract and retain the talent and manage that talent better than anybody else,” Ashworth said. “I think I’d be lying if I said that (a promising young player leaving) will never happen again.

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“Ultimately, what you can’t control are different reasons why players want to go to a club. It might be a pathway, it might be money. It might be a family situation, or a link with that particular city – or that particular country.

“I think the more you can make players feel valued, the more you can give them evidence of a pathway to a first team, and the more the club are striving towards the targets we’d like to achieve, that gives a story and a reason for a young player or senior player to stay and be part of that journey.”

Who knows where Clark would have been now if he had stayed on Tyneside but it’s safe to assume the young midfielder has no regrets. He signed a five-year professional early last year and has already made his Premier League and Carabao Cup debut as well as linking up with Jurgen Klopp’s side on pre-season tours.

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