PNE in Numbers: Milestone week on and off the field for Tom Clarke

Preston captain Tom Clarke.
Preston captain Tom Clarke.

It looks like being something of a milestone week for Preston North End skipper Tom Clarke.

After turning 30 on Thursday, the popular defender is set to make his 200th Lilywhites appearance when Nottingham Forest come to town on Saturday.

Clarke joined the club back in the summer of 2013 and not a single PNE fan needs telling how he became an instant hit at Deepdale.

In just the second game after his arrival from Huddersfield the Yorkshireman scored an 87th-minute winner against Blackpool to seal a 1-0 win and dump the Seasiders out of the League Cup.

It was a memorable night and one that set the tone for Clarke’s time at Deepdale.

Four-and-a-half years later he is as popular as ever, the scenes after his goal in the recent 2-1 win at Burton showing just how much it means for Clarke to be back from his ruptured Achilles tendon and the connection he has with the North End fans.

When he moved across the Pennines in 2013, the right back or central defendeer was bidding farewell to the club where he came through the ranks.

Halifax-born, he made 111 appearances in all competitions for Huddersfield and had loan spells with his hometown club, Leyton Orient and Bradford.

It is Deepdale that he has made his true footballing home however.

The unforgettable strike against Blackpool was the first of his 13 PNE goals, the latest coming against Burton as he scored at the Pirelli Stadium for the second season running.

The change of manager, Alex Neil replacing Simon Grayson in the summer, has made no difference to his importance to the club.

Having not played since being helped off with his Achilles injury at former club Huddersfield in April, Clarke returned off the bench late on in the win at Bristol City at the end of November.

He then became quite probably the latest substitute in Preston’s history when he came on in the 14th minute of stoppage time in the 1-1 draw at Norwich.

Starts against Queens Park Rangers, Burton and Sheffield United have followed with another likely to come against Forest this weekend.

Clarke won’t be the only man making a landmark appearance on Saturday, if Callum Robinson is involved then that will be his 100th Football League game, inclusive of his time on loan at Bristol City.

The former Aston Villa youngster has scored 16 goals in that time and looks ready to kick on again this season after adapting to life under Neil.