|Lifted from Empics.|
"It was a very up and down first season for me but I've enjoyed it. It has been another learning curve for me and I'm already looking forward to next season" said the Scottish international, who hopes to be fit enough to begin pre-season with the rest of the team. "I've been able to start to do a bit of running over the last few weeks and it will be a case of building up my workload over the summer. We have to be looking at trying to get a good pre-season under our belts in order to help us kick on and start next season in the same way as which we ended the last one."
This echoes the thoughts of everybody who was interviewed towards the end of the season and implies that there is a genuine belief the group can be successful next year. Where Clarkson fits into that is open to debate. Not because he isn't good enough, far from it, but it's where we can utilise his qualities effectively that needs to be worked out. He is primarily a forward but as we saw from his long-range strikes over the course of the campaign he is equally adept outside the penalty area in a deep-lying midfield role. That was a position he was deployed in for a time before his season-ending ankle injury and he did well during that spell, particularly alongside a more defence-minded player like Seanan Clucas. Ward will have to decide whether he sees Clarkson as an attacker or midfield player, a decision that is made difficult by the recruitment that needs to be done over the coming weeks. To my mind two central midfielders need to be signed as we have been woefully below-par in midfield for a number of years. We can only rectify this with a strong core of midfield players which Clarkson could provide increased competition for. With this in mind Ward may prefer to play him as a striker but a true poacher is probably required this summer too, meaning Clarkson wouldn't necessarily be a shoe-in for a starting spot up top either. Ryan Brunt and Matt Harrold are our target men and a diminutive goalscorer would partner either one of them perfectly. That's not to say DC couldn't be a good option alongside them but it may not bring as many goals as an Ashley Grimes type player could, for example.
It's a tough call because he is undoubtedly a very good footballer. One thing's for sure though, Clarky won't be resting on his laurels as he fully expects Ward to add to the squad over the summer: "The gaffer added some decent players with good experience to help out the promising lads already at the club [in January]. You'd expect him to bring another few in over the summer to make the squad even stronger, so it is looking good for next season."
I like him a lot as I think he's an honest pro that genuinely enjoys living in the area and playing for the club. If we're able to unlock his ability consistently throughout a season, which is possible given a full pre-season, then we have a player who could easily shine in League Two. He's the type of player who will improve as the team around him get better and that could also stand us and him in good stead for the future.