SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Clarke ready and waiting

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting 10 years ago today.

I’M READY ... AND WAITING:

CLIVE CLARKE hopes his waiting game pays off.

The Sunderland full-back has played only four games for the Black Cats since signing from West Ham last summer.

He had a spell on loan at Coventry after recovering from a groin injury, but has been unable to force his way into the reckoning under Roy Keane.

The former Stoke defender played in the reserves’ 3-0 win over Darlington at the Academy of Light yesterday, a rare run-out.

Clarke said: “It’s frustrating, but I’m not the only player in the same situation. The team has been unbeaten since I came back from the loan at Coventry.

“Under the circumstances, you can’t kick up a fuss with the manager about that. We’ve got other experienced pros like Stephen Wright and Kenny Cunningham in the same boat.

“We all just have to be patient and make sure we’re fit. It’s why we have to take these reserves games seriously.”

Football League clubs have one more week to arrange emergency loans for the rest of the season, but Clarke does not think he will be leaving.

The 27-year-old, who hasn’t made a first-team appearance for Sunderland since October, said: “It does feel like a long time since I played a proper game, but I can’t see me going on another loan. I went to Coventry to get my match fitness and it suited me well.

“Now we’re challenging for promotion, the gaffer’s going to want the strongest possible squad available with cover in all positions.

“I hope I’ve still for a part to play for the club this season. I wouldn’t wish injuries on any of the lads, but I have to be ready if I am needed.”

The size of the task facing Clarke is clear. Tuesday’s 2-2 home draw with his former club Stoke lengthened the Wearsiders’ unbeaten run to 12 Championship games.

“I was talking to a few of the Stoke lads and they reckoned we were the best team they had played,” added the Dubliner. “That shows how strong we are because we had players missing and we’ve played better than we did on Tuesday.”

MISTAKE IS IN THE PAST NOW – HYSEN:

TOBY Hysen was the birthday boy who got the blues last week.

The Swede turned 25 on Friday and ‘celebrated’ the occasion by being left home alone after missing the team bus.

Of the three players who missed the bus for last week’s trip to Barnsley – Marton Fulop and Anthony Stokes were also left behind – Hysen seemed the least culpable. It is understood that he was a passenger in Fulop’s car when the two were delayed by a road traffic accident.

But the right-winger does not want to go into details of the incident, preferring instead just to put it in the past.

He said: “We did a stupid thing but it is buried now. If you are late, you’re late, that’s the rule at this club and next time we know we need to go a bit earlier. Things happen, people make mistakes and you move on from them. We have been given a bit of stick from the players but you have to take that on the chin.

“My dad also gave me stick. He asked what happened because he has read it in the papers. I told him and he just said: ‘don’t worry, move on.’

“So I am not going to think about it any more.”

Hysen is more focussed on ensuring that Sunderland’s unbeaten run continued after salvaging a point against Stoke City on Tuesday night.

Hysen said: “Everyone here believes promotion is a realistic target and you have to give credit to Roy Keane and the staff for that.

“It’s now up to maybe 50 or 60 people inside the club to have a vital influence.

“At the beginning of the season, had we been 2-1 down at home – as we were against Stoke City – the fans would have been on our case, rather then helping us.

“Now there’s a belief we will nick a point.

“It’s amazing when you are out there on the pitch, you can’t hear yourself think.

“And hopefully against Hull on Saturday, there will be a bigger crowd and a day to remember.

“There won’t be Sky coverage and it’s not a midweek game but even on Tuesday, the crowd gave us fantastic support.

“The run-in is going to be tight because a lot can happen with eight games to go. It’s the team that holds its nerve that will be in with the best chance of going up in the top two.”