Tom sets out PNE priorities

Preston skipper Tom Clarke has signed a new three-year contract
Preston skipper Tom Clarke has signed a new three-year contract
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Tom Clarke hopes he can toast the signing of his new contract by helping Preston to kick-start their season.

The Lilywhites skipper put pen to paper on a three-year deal yesterday, that having the scope to extend his Deepdale stay to the summer of 2019.

Clarke and his North End team-mates resume action this Saturday with a home clash against Barnsley.

During the international break, plenty of time has been spent on the Springfields training pitches in an attempt to get PNE firing on all cylinders after a slow start.

They have won only one of their first five Championship matches.

A busy few weeks are ahead, with six league games and a trip to Bournemouth in the League Cup to play before the October international break.

Clarke told the Evening Post: “We’ve not started the season brilliantly but we have a lot of games coming up when we can put things right.

“The games come thick and fast and we need to start putting points on the board.

“Apart from the first half at Reading when we were very disappointing, I don’t think we have ever been out of a game.

“It is just a case of having more ruthlessness to our play in the final third of the pitch and in our defensive third.

“We always knew this season would be more difficult than last year because other teams know more about us this time. But we are determined to get things right and I don’t think we are too far off.

“We’ve been doing morning and afternoon sessions on the training pitch during the international break, and watched videos of the games.

“The new lads have been bedding in during that time and hopefully the hard work will start to pay off.”

Clarke, 28, is the third PNE player to sign a new contract over the last few days.

Daniel Johnson and Paul Huntington agreed deals last week – DJ penned a three-year contract and Huntington signed on for two more years with the option of a further 12 months.

Talks are continuing with three other players whose current contracts are due to end next summer.

Clarke has been a mainstay of the Preston defence since joining the club in June 2013 on a Bosman from Huddersfield Town.

He has made more than 150 appearances and during his stay has assumed the role of team captain.

North End manager Simon Grayson said: “Tom has been here for a few years now and has been a very consistent performer.

“He is a whole-hearted player and like other members of the squad we wanted to try and secure him for the long term.

“Tom is still a willing learner and has valuable experience to share with the younger players in the squad.

“So we are delighted to add him to the core who are with us for an extended period of time.”