Brighton loan star Matt Clarke set to impress Wayne Rooney after fine start at Derby County

Matt Clarke captained a young Brighton side against Crawley on Friday. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Matt Clarke captained a young Brighton side against Crawley on Friday. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Matt Clarke, Brighton’s newly-signed player on loan to Derby County, impressed in his debut for the Rams on Monday night.

The 22-year-old was the first signing made by new Brighton boss Graham Potter in June but after spending pre-season training with the Albion, he was loaned out to Championship club Derby County for the season.

Now, with Wayne Rooney confirmed to be joining the Rams as player-coach from January, Clarke will get the opportunity to impress England’s top goal scorer.

He has already won over Rams fans, who are raving about the young centre-back after his first performance for the club in their 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town.

The club shared on Twitter that he had “100 per cent dribble success” in Monday night’s game, and fans are even predicting that Clarke will be picked for the 2022 World Cup England squad.

After four years with Portsmouth, the defender was signed to Brighton on a four-year deal for a reported £3.5 million but Potter decided that loaning him to Derby would be best for his new player’s development.

Clarke had already made his Brighton debut in a friendly against FC Liefering in July and is being treated as a “long-term prospect” for the club.

A Championship club was seen by Potter as the “logical step for his own development” from his former EFL League One team.

Clarke made his professional debut in 2014 playing for Ipswich Town, but a year later began playing for Portsmouth first on loan and then permanently after Ipswich agreed a swap for Adam Webster - who also joined Brighton this year for a club record £20m.

Clarke was a fan favourite at Pompey and last season helped them win the EFL Trophy, being awarded man of the match for the final.

Derby boss Phillip Cocu said Clarke, “did a good job” playing his first match for the club just three days after signing with them.

They agreed the best way for him to come into the team was to “just start playing.”

With Wayne Rooney joining Derby in the New Year, Clarke’s time with the club will be even more important for his development before he returns to Brighton after his season-long loan.