PNE in numbers: Clarke leading from the front

Preston North End captain Tom Clarke.
Preston North End captain Tom Clarke.
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Any which way you look at it, Tom Clarke is Preston North End’s marathon man.

After limping off just after the hour mark in the defeat against Reading on the opening day, the Lilywhites skipper has played every minute of every Championship game since then.

In total, that’s 3,579 minutes on the park in league and cup, with fellow stopper Greg Cunningham next in the queue with 3,450.

All the statistics point to a man who can be relied on week in, week out by PNE boss Simon Grayson.

One big difference between Clarke and Cunningham, and the reason he has featured in every game, is bookings.

The Irishman has his own personal battle with Ben Pearson to top the disciplinary chart, having picked up 12 yellows this season, leaving him three away from 15, which would trigger a three-game suspension and his third ban of the season.

For a man who tackles for a living, Clarke has just three yellows meaning he’s not going to serve a suspension of any kind this campaign.

It’s remarkable for a defender really, when one wrong move can result in a talking to or a card.

It is therefore 41 appearances and counting for the 29-year-old, who has also chipped in with three goals against Cardiff, Huddersfield and the winner at Burton in the first game of 2017.

Just how dependable Clarke is has been shown in his shift to right-back in the last two games, the skipper covering injuries to Marnick Vermijl, Alex Baptiste and Tyias Browning.