Clark elated to finally realise his Premier League ambition with Luton at Old Trafford
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Town midfielder Jordan Clark finally got to realise his dream of becoming a fully fledged Premier League player when coming off the bench at Old Trafford during the Hatters’ 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.
The 30-year-old had been such an integral part of the club reaching the top flight in the first place, scoring both in normal time and then the penalty shoot-out triumph against Coventry City during the play-off final at Wembley back in May.
However, Clark, along with Dan Potts, both then suffered ankle ligament damage in Town’s pre-season trip to Vfl Bochum in August that left the pair ruled out of Luton’s opening few months of the campaign.
Potts is yet to fully recover, but the former Accrington and Shrewsbury player was back on the bench against Liverpool last week as an unused substitute, and then got his chance at the weekend when replacing Alfie Doughty with 18 minutes to go against the Red Devils.
On just what the occasion meant to him, Clark said: “It’s been some journey, I always dreamed it though.
"You have little doubts when you slip into the lower leagues I must admit, but then you start ticking boxes, League Two to League One and then the same when you get to the Championship.
"Then when you get to the Championship, it’s like why not?
"So you’re just going to keep aiming for the next one, it was always my aim.
"It was a great feeling, it’s even better as this was always the planned date.
"So it just shows all the work me and the physios, especially they have done, and the sports science guys towards the back end of my rehab, it’s all materialised.
"The plan set out has worked, so I’m really happy.
"There’s not many better places to make your Premier League debut, so I’m over the moon, apart from the result which is the disappointing thing.”
Like the Hatters’ ascent to the top flight, it is a similar story for Clark, who a decade ago was at Barnsley and about to go on loan to non-league Hyde, where he faced Luton in a 1-0 victory for Town.
Since then he has played in the third and fourth tier for Accrington and Shrewsbury before heading to Kenilworth Road in August 2020 when Luton were a Championship side.
Having now made the top level of English football, it was something that was going through his mind in the build-up, as he continued: “During the game you don’t think about it as you’re in game mode, but last night (Friday) you start talking and you think wow, you’ve come so far.
“I went on loan to Hyde from Barnsley, 10 years ago, then I was at Accrington for four years, so it’s been some journey.
"You’ve done the hard yards in non-league and then gone through League Two, League One and the Championship, so it’s a crazy journey.
"You’ve just got to enjoy every minute of it really and not let it pass you by.
“They’ve (my family) been on the journey with me, so it’s for them as well as me, especially my mum and dad who have been driving me round the country for years, since I was a little kid, so it was special for them as well.
“I’ll probably have a Chinese to celebrate though and just go back and be a dad again.”
Although he was only on for the final stages, Clark had an instant impact as he got back to make a terrific block on Bruno Fernandes’s goalbound volley to keep the Hatters in the game.
He said: “I know, I thought it was out of play at first, but then I thought I’d try and track him as you never know with VAR these days, so it was probably my first touch of the ball really, nice block.
“(Erik) ten Hag was being crazy on the sidelines towards the end, him and Bruno Fernandes, they weren't happy with something, so you could tell they were a little bit rattled when they were giving free kicks away and we've got balls in their half.
"They're in a bit of a tough time at the minute, but I’m disappointed we couldn't really create any clear cut chances in the end.
"So one to learn from and we’ll watch it back and analyse it and get better from it.”
Now he has made one appearance though, Clark is determined to make sure both he and the Hatters are regular fixtures at this level going forwards, adding: "There’s myself and a lot of players in there saying we don’t just want this to be a one season thing.
"We want to stay here, so there'll be a lot of hard work put in to make sure we can achieve that."