Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray has lavished praise on Jack Clarke, admitting that he has been blown away by the winger’s ability since his summer switch from Tottenham.
Clarke failed to live up to expectations after his £10m move to Spurs from Leeds in 2019 (The Sun) but the youngster showed glimpses of his quality during his last two loan spells at Stoke City and Sunderland.
The winger played a valued part in helping the Black Cats win promotion back to the Championship last season, and it did not come as a surprise when the club signed the 21-year-old permanently in the summer.
According to Alasdair Gold, although the initial fee that Sunderland paid for the former Leeds man was modest, the price could potentially rise to £10m if the future add-ons are met.
Clarke has made a terrific start to the new season, having notched up seven goal contributions in 10 Championship games so far this season (Transfermarkt).
Mowbray has now said that while the former Spurs man still needs to work on facets of his game, his ability with the ball at his feet is not in any doubt.
The Black Cats boss told The Sunderland Echo: “Young players, it’s more off the cuff and Jack falls into that category. What a wonderful talent he is.
“The first half at Reading for example he frustrated me a bit, he couldn’t get on the ball as much as he’d have liked, and he doesn’t really have those double movements yet, to run away and come back to buy some space, to come short and then spin away when the defender comes tight, these are all the things he has to work on.
“What nobody can deny is the talent he has when the ball is at his feet, how fast his feet are and how wonderful a talent he is. And he’s a joy to work with because he’s a wonderfully happy-go-lucky kid.
“There’s times I’d like him to be a bit more serious but that’s because he really is a diamond of a lad, we all love him.
“Jack was proposed to us a lot at Blackburn Rovers for a loan but we never took it up, because I’d seen him play against us for the U23s and he hardly had a kick, I just felt he’d lost his way, you’re obviously a talent if you move for the kind of fee he did.
“It’s just about finding the answers and giving him that confidence, showing him that love.
“You have to have that understanding that from time to time you might bring him off because he’s just having one of those days, but you never push him to the back of the queue because he can win you football matches.”
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It certainly did not help Clarke’s cause that the manager who signed him, Mauricio Pochettino, was sacked just a few months after the youngster’s arrival at Spurs.
The 21-year-old did not show enough in North London to suggest that he is a future first-team prospect but I am pleased to see him starting to fulfil his potential at Sunderland.
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