Bang on head no problem for PNE skipper

Tom Clarke comes off the pitch with the PNE medical staff after a clash of heads in the win over Walsall
Tom Clarke comes off the pitch with the PNE medical staff after a clash of heads in the win over Walsall
  • KO did not harm Clarke
  • PNE ready to push on at MK Dons
  • Captain delighted by form
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Preston North End skipper Tom Clarke suffered the first head injury of his career recently and hopes it is the last – just so he does not have to answer some tough questions!

The defender was knocked out cold in the win over Walsall a week last Tuesday after a clash of heads.

I feel loads better now but the first five minutes afterwards were not clever

After coming round, he was asked questions by the medical staff to test his memory.

“They were asking me stuff which I didn’t know how to answer – but that is normal,” said Clarke.

“If I was getting the answers right, that would have been the time to worry!

“I feel loads better now but the first five minutes afterwards were not clever.

“It was the right decision from the doctor to take me off but at the time I was fighting that and saying I wanted to stay on.

“Looking back at the DVD of the game, it was a hell of a whack I got.

“Coming off that night, I knew I would miss the next game and it was that which frustrated me.

“I had a couple of days off at home afterwards, had a rest and then was able to train leading up to the Doncaster game.

“When I clashed heads, I had gone to meet a corner and their lad moved his head back to try and clear it.

“He ended up with some stitches and I got a lump on my forehead, just above my right eye.

“You have to be careful with head injuries these days – there is a lot of attention paid to them in different sports.

“Thankfully I didn’t have any grogginess or headaches in the days after and the couple of days’ rest I had did me good.”

After sitting out the 4-0 win at Oldham last Saturday, Clarke returned to action in midweek against Doncaster.

The next assignment is the promotion battle with MK Dons at the stadium:mk, a third-versus-second clash in League One.

Preston go to Buckinghamshire on the back of five wins and a draw, 16 points gathered from the last 18 on offer.

That run saw Simon Grayson’s men claw back the lead MK had on them before moving into second spot on Tuesday night.

Victory would see them stay in the automatic promotion slots and open up a four-point gap, which is the tasty carrot being dangled. Clarke said: “MK Dons away is a massive game, no two ways about it. We are both up there in the table and chasing the same thing.

“Hopefully we can go there and take our good form into the game.

“We will have a good following of fans and want to send them home with something to cheer.

“Against MK Dons at home in December we played really well and created some good chances.

“They scored on the break to take the lead but we came back and equalised through Scott Wiseman.

“We have put ourselves in a great position recently and if we can manage a win it would give us a little bit of a gap.

“The game in hand we have could even take it further. We are on a good run at the moment, five wins on the bounce and then the Doncaster draw.

“That is strong form which we need to keep producing for the rest of the season. The aim at the start was to get automatic promotion and now we have got ourselves into the top two.

“We have a great opportunity to do well and we know we have to work hard.

“Looking around the club and the stadium, it is all geared up for the next level.

“But we have to get there first – put in the hard work to get to where we all want.

“We know that the supporters are desperate to get promoted and we feel just the same.”

The point which edged them above MK Dons was achieved in dramatic circumstances against Doncaster.

After leading through Daniel Johnson’s fourth goal in four games, Donny scored twice late on to turn their game in their favour.

But with four minutes of added time played, Jermaine Beckford volleyed home an equaliser.

Said Clarke: “It was a tough game. Doncaster had been on a good run and they showed what a decent side they are.

“The way things happened with Jermaine scoring so late, it felt like a victory almost.

“There will be times in a season when you have to dig yourself out of a hole and fortunately we did that on Tuesday night. Being able to bring strikers of the quality of Jermaine Beckford, Kevin Davies and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake off the bench to change games is fantastic.

“They are all experienced lads who have been in situations like this before.

“Looking through the squad, there is a lot of strength and depth to it and that can only serve us well as the season goes on.”

Clarke’s last couple of games have come at right-back, although PNE switched to a 3-5-2 during the second half against Donny.

“I don’t mind playing right-back or centre-half, just as long as I’m in the team,” said the 
27-year-old. “I initially played right-back when I first joined Preston and them moved to centre-half.

“We play in a back three sometimes and I’m comfortable with the different positions.

“I’m looking to chip in with more goals. Paul Huntington has scored a few and I need to start catching up with him.”