Arsenal’s Harry Clarke adds strength to Hibs' defence, bolsters attack - and he can't wait for Rangers and Celtic games

Harry Clarke was only a few games into his loan spell at Ross County when he made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t there for an easy time.

He wanted new challenges and by that time it was already clear that he was capable of rising to them.

A loanee, the 20 year-old Arsenal player, who had come through the ranks at the London club after transferring from his local side – Ipswich Town – in 2015, had arrived in the Highlands looking to test his mettle.

He may have been hundreds of miles from the Emirates and the English Premier League but he quickly made himself at home

Harry Clarke holds off Celtic's Adam Montgomery during a cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Ross County at Celtic Park earlier this season. Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group

Advertisement

Hide Ad

In his first five games in Scotland, the man who is expected to become Shaun Maloney’s first signing as Hibs manager, played Rangers, Celtic and the Easter Road side, who had finished last season as the third best team in the country.

And, he wasted no time in forcing team-mates, rivals and onlookers to sit up and take notice.

“I’m loving it,” he told the Press and Journal. “Obviously, the Celtic game for me stands out, not only playing in front of 60,000 but playing against top players in the league.

“Against Rangers here [in Dingwall] as well, it was fantastic. It is a big test but that’s what I’ve come to this league to do.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“If I had it my way, I’d play the Old Firm every week, but all the matches have been good.”

If today’s medical passes without a hitch and the paperwork is completed as planned, he will be in contention for a place in the Hibs backline when they head to Parkhead on January 17. Whether the stadium will be packed with 60,000 that evening or echo miserably as covid restrictions continue to hit the football fellowship hard, only time will tell, but he will enjoy the battle.

Originally signed as a right-sided centre-back by Malky Mackay, one of Clarke’s many assets is his flexibility, and his ability to attack as well as defend. Comfortable on the ball and with the engine and the running to bound forward and press opponents back, his attributes proved difficult to ignore as he was switched to right back and rewarded his gaffer with three goals and two assists in his 17 appearances.

That eye for goal will prove useful in a revitalised Hibs side determined to pose a threat all through the team. But, Clarke is a player who is rarely posted missing when offence has to quickly revert back to defence, which is why, along with the work ethic and professionalism instilled in him at Arsenal, Ross County are devastated to lose him midway through the season. He still has his fans in London, impressed with performances for the Arsenal u23s.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

A player with the physique to handle the Scottish game, he has energy and running power and a will to win which has earned him a step up as he continues his development.

His presence offers Hibs the strength in depth they have been seeking and provides immediate cover for Ryan Porteous, who is suspended for the first three games back after the winter break. It also livens up the battle for places, forcing several players to up their game. Which is exactly what Maloney will want.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.