Ciaran Clark: 'Saints weren't afraid to play out from the back and everyone looked comfortable on the ball'

Thu, Jul 19 2018

Clark competes for the ball with St Patrick's Athletic's Ryan Brennan. Credit: Darragh Connolly

Ciaran Clark is raring to get going as the countdown to the new Premier League season continues, having been a spectator for the entire duration of the World Cup this summer.

The Irish international has been in Dublin with the rest of the Newcastle United squad over the past number of days as their pre – season programme starts to get underway.

Clark praised the pitch and everyone involved at St Patrick's Athletic following his side's 2-0 victory at Richmond Park on Tuesday evening.

This is the second summer in a row Rafa Beintez has included Irish opposition in his pre-season plans.

The squad have been in Carton House in the past few days and their short stay concluded with a friendly against the Saints in front of almost 5,000 spectators.

Sean Longstaff and Christian Atsu scored in either half as Benitez's star-studded side came out the right side of a 2-0 scoreline.

Clark was one of nine subs to join the action at half time as the crowd got their money's worth and was pleased with the work out he and his teammates got from the game.

“It was a great workout. It's all about getting minutes on the pitch,” Clark said after the game.

“Everyone managed to get at least 45 minutes, which was a positive. It was a tough workout and it's a good start to pre-season.”

Clark was quick to praise the pitch and the opposition in St. Patricks Athletic especially with the testing conditions the dry weather has given to groundsmen up and down the country in recent weeks.

“It's a lovely stadium and the pitch has been brilliant. The ball moved really well on it. It suited us really because we like to pass it around a bit.”

“It was a good atmosphere as well with all the fans coming down to see it.”

The home side, though losing in the possession stakes overall, gave Newcastle a good test and put together some lovely passages of play over the course of the evening.

“They weren't afraid to play out from the back at all and everyone looked very comfortable on the ball.”

“They made it really difficult for us to press them and go get the ball back from them.

“In the second half, some legs started to go and we managed to pick the ball up and counter-attack a bit more and managed to get a couple of goals, but the test overall was exactly what we needed.”

Newcastle’s next pre–season game takes them to the KC Stadium where they will face Hull City next Tuesday night.

Clark said the team are excited about the new season and their preparation is all focused towards their season opener against Tottenham Hotspur on August 11th.

“Obviously watching [the World Cup] there's always that thought in your head thinking we were so close to getting there.

“But it's done now and we've got to concentrate on getting fit for the first game of the season. After that it'll be concentrating on trying to get involved in the squad for Ireland.”