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Friday 15 December 2017

Clark: 'Axe from Euro 2016 didn't get to me'

Ciaran Clark. Photo: Sportsfile
Ciaran Clark. Photo: Sportsfile

He has come through some tests in the Premier League with Newcastle this season, passed one with flying colours, and another big test awaits Ciaran Clark on Saturday in Georgia.

And the defender says his confidence has not been knocked by his experiences in Euro 2016, where Clark had the 'honour' of scoring an own goal in the draw with Sweden and was then dropped from the side by Martin O'Neill after the debacle that was the loss to Belgium.

Clark will almost certainly play in central defence alongside Shane Duffy in Tbilisi on Saturday, a venue where Georgia have scored at least once in their last nine games, so Duffy and Clark will be busy men.

"They've shown in this group they're a tough team to play against, it's especially a tough place to go, but also it is a good chance for us to get three points there and look to push on other teams. It will be a tough game but the squad and quality we've got, I feel we're good enough to get three points," says Clark, confidence coursing through his veins after the disappointments of Euro 2016. "I think the first couple of games were tough. The manager felt it was the right time to make the change," says Clark, who started against Sweden and Belgium but was then left out for the next three competitive games.

"I didn't let it affect me really to be honest. It's a squad tournament, everyone played their part. Honestly, I was happy," says Clark.

"Every player wants to be playing but there were no complaints from my or no actual change on my end at all. It is one of those. It's the manager's decision at the end of the day who plays and he just looks to spark and reaction and the attitude in a player.

"You just get your head down and keep working hard. Keep going, you'll get your opportunity again, that's what it's all about really, you can't let things affect you too much, just got to get back to training and just work as hard as you can and keep going."

It was a tough start to the season for Clark and United but last week's win over West Ham helped, Clark scoring a goal - at the right end of the pitch, a response to the previous week's loss to Huddersfield.

"We wanted to go out there on Saturday against West Ham and put that right. We've a couple of weeks before the next game but we're just delighted to get the three points on the board and hopefully that will give us something to improve on," says Clark.

"Going off the back of last season coming into the Premier League, we want to do our best to make sure we're in the Premier League next season for a start.

"Everyone would love to have a Cup run, especially for the fans, but the most important thing is to survive in the Premier League."

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