It’s been a period of frustration for Matt Clarke, as he’s battled back from his injury set-back – but the West Brom loanee is raring to go once the domestic schedule starts up again.
Albion centre half Clarke, on loan from Brighton, hasn’t been seen since the end of August when he limped off before half time in the 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers, with what was later confirmed as a hamstring injury. It was predicted he’d be missing for around five or six weeks and that time has since passed.
Clarke made the bench in the 1-0 defeat to Stoke City last Friday night, but he had an inkling in the Potteries that he wouldn’t be involved as he was scheduled to feature in the PL2 on Monday.
“As soon as you are injured you look for the return date and when you might be back playing,” Clarke explained. “Although I was in the squad for Stoke, it wasn’t really ideal as I didn’t feel as though I would be featuring.
“I was always pencilled in to play in the Premier League 2 game on Monday against Sunderland. It was nice to get out there and get through it.
“I felt good and I felt I probably could have played longer, but it was always pencilled in that I was going to play 45 minutes. It’s the way football goes.”
Clarke has had to be very patient in recent weeks.
Hamstrings are awkward injuries to collect; there’s no choice but to wait and allow itself to heal over a period of time, because if your come-back is premature you can quickly find yourself back in the treatment room having suffered a recurrence.
“The rehab went really well and I felt in myself that I could have been ready to come back before I did, but I was happy to follow the advice of the medical team who told me that the location of the injury meant I had to be patient and not return too soon,” Clarke reasoned.
“You have to give it time to settle and heal, which obviously brings a little bit of frustration but you have to make sure you’re right.
“The way the rehab is structured, you never feel as though there are any risks. You don’t do anything that could ever put you at risk or harm the rehab process.”
That’s that, now, for Albion until they welcome local rivals Birmingham City to The Hawthorns on Friday week and Clarke is eyeing a return to the starting XI.
“I feel like I’m now ready but it’s the international break and there are no games to play,” he added. “It does give me a chance to catch up even further in terms of fitness and sharpness, so we will see where we are when the matches return.”