Skipper Tom Clarke dreams of Premier League football with PNE
Captain Tom Clarke hopes his new contract is one that will see him lead out Preston North End as a Premier League club.
The skipper signed a new two-year deal yesterday which takes him through to the summer of 2020 at Deepdale.
Having joined the Lilywhites back in May 2013, the 30-year-old defender has seen the club promoted once from League One back to the Championship, via the play-offs, three years ago.
Now after a seventh-place finish in the second tier in Alex Neil’s first season in charge, Clarke, like so many at the club, is optimistic they can take the next step sooner rather than later.
“Playing in the Premier League is what we all strive for,” said the centre-half, who has played more than 200 times for PNE in his five years with the club. “When I first joined I knew everything was in place and the club was geared up for a higher division.
“We’ve managed to get promoted once during my time here and it’s what the fans want and need and what the stadium is built for.
“Around the club there is plenty of excitement with the manager and the staff that we’ve got and the players that we can hopefully keep together and then add to.
“Everything’s building up nicely towards what will hopefully be another great season.
“We’ve improved every season that I’ve been here and if we do that again we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Clarke joins fellow defender Darnell Fisher in signing fresh terms since the end of the season, with more players expected to follow in the coming weeks as PNE aim to tie down current members of their squad as well as bring in fresh faces.
The former Huddersfield man, who famously scored a winner against Blackpool on just his second North End appearance, is pleased to have got contractual matters tied up nice and early in the close-season.
“We were talking for a while and I’m just glad to get it over the line and done,” Clarke said.
“Now I can concentrate on getting back and having a good pre-season and getting going again.
“I’m loving my time here and I’m excited about what’s to come.”
Elsewhere, Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham and Daryl Horgan are part of the Republic of Ireland squad set to face the USA in Dublin tonight.
Browne made his third senior appearance for his country in the defeat to France in Paris last Monday with his PNE team-mates unused subs.
This evening’s game at the Aviva Stadium will see the Irish pay tribute to John O’Shea, who makes his final international appearance.