‘Frustrated’ and forgotten Newcastle United man set for starting XI recall

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On-loan Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark is set to play a big part in Sheffield United’s charge towards Premier League promotion.

The former Republic of Ireland international moved to Bramall Lane in the summer after falling out of favour under head coach Eddie Howe.

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Clark was red-carded twice in the space of two months against Norwich City and Al-Ittihad before being left out of United’s 25-man Premier League squad for the second half of last season.

Ciaran Clark is sent off against Norwich City. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)Ciaran Clark is sent off against Norwich City. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Ciaran Clark is sent off against Norwich City. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Following the arrival of Dan Burn in January, and later Sven Botman in the summer, Clark was told he could leave St James’ Park - subsequently joining the Blades on a season-long loan deal.

A hamstring injury, however, has restricted the 33-year-old to just five appearances. Indeed, he’s only just returned to action and Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom is backing Clark to rediscover his best form.

The previous two matches have offered a lot of promise with Clark keeping two clean sheets in back-to-back 1-0 wins against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.

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“He showed his quality,” Heckingbottom said. “He’s getting fitter now each week.

“We only got him at the back end of pre-season, so we only had a couple of weeks to work with him. He started the first league game out of position and played here for the second and did really well.

“Then he’s had a long period out and got thrown into the action at Cardiff and second half I thought he was excellent down there. It’s been good to have these training weeks behind him and you can see him getting fitter each day, each week.

Ciaran Clark is on loan at Newcastle United. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)Ciaran Clark is on loan at Newcastle United. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Ciaran Clark is on loan at Newcastle United. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“We look forward to him getting a good run of consistency in terms of his training. He will have been as frustrated as the other boys who have picked up injuries, so it’s good to have him back.”

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Heckingbottom’s men are currently on track for automatic promotion from the Championship - sitting second, five points above third place Blackburn Rovers and three behind leaders Burnley.

Clark, in many ways, is playing for a permanent contract at Bramall Lane with his contract at Newcastle expiring at the end of the season.

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