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Clarke's got Osman in sight - 27/02/2004

   Derby County
   Coventry City

Peter Clarke admits he will have his hands full against his Everton team-mate Leon Osman - if he's selected to face Derby County tomorrow.

The pair came up through the ranks at Goodison Park together and are now both trying to make a name for themselves out on loan in the First Division.

Attacking midfielder Osman has already hit the headlines and is seen as one of the Rams’ main dangerman at Highfield Road tomorrow after notching two goals in five games.

And, although not promising goals himself, Clarke is hoping to make an equally good impression with the Sky Blues.

“I would like to think I have done enough to earn another start because the game went quite well against Wimbledon,” said the 22-year-old centre-back, who made his City debut last weekend.

“So hopefully, given the fact that we won 3-0 and we kept a clean sheet, I would like to think I will keep my place.”

“I know Ozzy quite well because we have played together for eight or nine years now. He is not the biggest of lads but he is quite skilful, a tough tackler and very tenacious and gives everything he has got.”

“He has scored a couple of goals and probably looks to be their best player at the moment, so we have got to be careful of him. I will tell the boys what I know about him and hopefully we will keep him quiet.”

“He is probably not the strongest in the air but he has proved me wrong recently by scoring a couple with his head so he has been doing quite well, but hopefully, come Saturday, he won’t do quite so well and we can take advantage and take the full three points.”

“I have not spoken to him yet but I expect I will speak to him before Saturday and tell him to have a late night and plenty to drink on Friday and then hopefully he won’t be on top form.”

He added: “Leon is eight months older than me and was in the year above, but we both joined Everton aged 10 or 11, but it wasn’t until we were 13 or 14 that we played in the same team, which we followed through to the youth team and reserves, and even a couple of games in the first team.

“We both want to make that next step up now after playing regularly in the reserves. At the moment he’s at Derby trying to do that and I am at Coventry, so I suppose our careers have followed a similar pattern.”

“He has just been offered a second month at Derby and I would love to do the same here if everything is right and things go well, so that’s hopefully the next step.”

Osman is equally complimentary about Clarke, saying: “Peter is a strong and aggressive central defender and certainly capable of doing well at Coventry.

“He has been unlucky not to get more of a chance at Everton. A little like myself, he has had to go out on loan in order to get”

“I know Peter well and our parents used to sit next to each other at matches as we came up through the system. I am sure he’ll be hoping for the three points tomorrow but Derby need the points as well.”

It will be Clarke’s second Highfield Road debut if he plays tomorrow, coming three years on from his senior Everton first team football.

And the loan player hopes it will be the start of better things to come from the Sky Blues.

“It was a fairly comfortable win against Wimbledon which is pretty rare in this league,” he said.

“Crystal Palace were nowhere to be seen before Ian Dowie went there and now they are right up in the thick of the play-offs, so it just shows what a good run can do and hopefully our win at Wimbledon is the start of something like that for us.”

“Derby have ended Palace’s run and they will want to kick on and get another good result, so they will come here and battle for every ball and try to pick up every point they can between now and the end of the season to get themselves away from the relegation zone.”

“But we said before the Wimbledon game that we had two very winnable games coming up and we have won the first one, so hopefully we can finish the job against Derby.”

IC Coventry

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