In his second game just in 286 days after suffering an injury in February, Clark is quickly rediscovering the form that persuaded Steve Bruce to keep him last summer.
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Clark was ironically set to join Crystal Palace in the 2019 preseason before Bruce persuaded him to stay on Tyneside.
After an impressive season, the injury has been a huge blow, and his return to the starting XI against Chelsea last weekend was one of the only bright spots on an otherwise bleak afternoon.
Six days later, Clark had a quiet hand in Newcastle’s crucial three points at Selhurst Park.
While those watching will remember Federico Fernandez’s last block at the end of the second half with Christian Benteke on goal, Clark’s orderly and consistent performance could go unnoticed.
Still, stats place him as one of the best on the pitch against Palace – most air battles won (7), most interceptions (3) and most clears (6) – three of those in the middle. way into the second half as Palace started. pepper the United can.
It was a good old-fashioned, no-frills center-backs performance – you just have to get the job done, and it helped Karl Darlow get his first clean sheet since day one of the season.
Clark was also calm in possession, which was important considering the Magpies had a lot more ball than they had used (42%). He made the most passes in the game (50) with 76% passing accuracy (6th of 13), but perhaps more crucial, delivered 63% of his long ball attempts with accuracy (5 of 8 .)
As Steve Bruce struggles to find the right formation – moving to four at the back, it’s important that he has a solid center couple to lean on, especially when club captain Jamaal Lascelles is excluded.
Bruce was determined to keep Clark at the club and had to do everything to dissuade him from going in search of first-team football, the Republic of Ireland international has once again shown why this conversation leading up to the friendly. ‘Hibernian was perhaps one of the important ones Bruce had as Toon’s head coach.