Press article:

Clarke fears the worst - 03/03/2004

Peter Clarke fears he may have blown his chances of getting a second month on loan at Highfield Road after being sent off with a straight red card against Cardiff City last night.

But the Everton asset hopes the Sky Blues will appeal against his three-match ban for the tackle on John Robinson which left Coventry down to ten men after just three minutes at Ninian Park, where they went on to pull off an extraordinary victory.

“I don’t know what it is with me and red cards but they say things come in threes,” said the 22-year-old defender - the victim as Wimbledon and Derby each had a player sent off in his first two games.

“The ball fell between the two of us and it was there to be won as far as I was concerned. I slid in, probably studs showing, with one foot along the floor and I won the ball.

“The ball then bounced away and there was a collision between the two of us. My ankle is pretty swollen now so I don’t know what he has done or the extent of his injuries, if any, but one of the players said to me that my only mistake was being honest and getting up straight away. Maybe I should have stayed on the floor a little bit longer and rolled around.

“I don’t know what the officials were doing because the referee had blown and the linesman had pointed for a free-kick our way.

“The linesman didn’t know which way he was flagging but the ref went across and the two of them made the decision - unfortunately for me it wasn’t the right one!

“I don’t think the referee saw it and between the two of them I don’t think they saw everything that happened. I have got to be careful what I say but I don’t know whether they can look at it and make another decision.

He added: “I know I will be OK to play on Saturday but I don’t know when the suspension will kick in and it could affect the loan spell which is not ideal at all.

“Things had been going fairly well because we had won two games and kept two clean sheets and if it suited both parties then a second month would probably have been agreed for me.

“But with a suspension looming the board and manager have got a decision to make - can they afford to have a player on loan who is going to be missing for three games?

“Hopefully, if the referee can look at the decision again, that won’t be the case. If he feels he was a touch hasty then maybe there won’t be a suspension.”

Clarke believes he should have been given the benefit of the doubt and insists that he went for the ball fair and square.

"I was surprised because when the ref called me over I thought he was going to give me a ticking off and tell me that next time I would be in the book. He just asked for my name and I thought he was going to show me a yellow card, but he went into his back pocket and showed me the red.

"But I think you get a good indication as to whether he was being hasty by the reaction of the other players on the pitch. Not one of their players came to me and said I had gone over the top or done this or that - they didn't seem too annoyed or angry or concerned about the tackle.

"I am annoyed because things have been going well and as far as I am concerned there was a ball there to be won and a tackle to be made, and if I hadn't made it then my own players and staff may have questioned whether I was fit to wear the shirt or not.

"I made the tackle so I suppose I have got to take the consequences, but there was no malicious intent there whatsoever - I am not that type of player. I play hard and battle for every ball and challenge that is going but I would never, ever try to intentionally hurt a fellow professional because I couldn't do it."

While Clarke was clearly disappointed with his personal predicament, he was delighted with the final result. "I went and got a shower, had a little think over things and then watched the game on the television screen," he revealed.

"It was brilliant to see the final result and every single one of the lads did well and deserve a lot of praise and credit because they were magnificent. The boys defended brilliantly all the way through from Julian up front to the defenders, and obviously Scott in goal for the crucial save.

"I am glad for them that we got a result because playing with ten men for so long you think you are going to be at a disadvantage, but the boys were brilliant. So something like that can work in your favour."

Manager Eric Black, meanwhile, is undecided about Clarke's short-term future with the club, saying: "We will have to assess that. I think he has done well and it is unfortunate that it has happened."

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