It has been an incredibly frustrating start to the season for Jack Clarke, who has been missing from Leeds United’s last five squads in the Championship.
Clarke – who joined Tottenham in a £10 million deal in the summer before returning to Elland Road for the season (via BBC Sport) – currently occupies the role of the Whites’s sixth loanee. He has been the player that Marcelo Bielsa has left out of his league squads to ensure that Leeds comply with the rules.
And with Leeds already out of the Carabao Cup, it is going to be an incredibly tough task for Clarke to force his way back into the picture for the time-being.
Injuries may help his cause as the season stretches the squad. But he can certainly do himself a favour by impressing when he features for the under-23s.
His latest appearance came on Monday night as he started against Watford at Elland Road. It was a great night for Leeds, who won 6-0. But once again, it was a somewhat underwhelming night for Clarke.
And perhaps it may be fair to suggest that there may be a chance that the man who started the game on the other flank could add to his problems – based on his showing against the Hornets.
Stuart McKinstry was one of the standouts for Leeds. The 16-year-old won two penalties and looked extremely exciting throughout.
It was the kind of performance that would have evoked memories of when Clarke was arriving on the scene. The fans were imploring the likes of Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom to give him a chance before Bielsa did unleash the wide-man last season.
McKinstry has a lot to prove before he really moves himself onto Bielsa’s radar. But if Bielsa needs to promote a winger and none of the five loanees ahead of Clarke are unavailable, perhaps he may be tempted to take a gamble on McKinstry.
And if McKinstry can take his chance, Clarke may find himself even further away from the first-team. The summer signing would not need to be a game-changer, but if he shows promise, he could keep himself in Bielsa’s plans.
Clarke does not need another name ahead of him in the pecking order. McKinstry is not there yet. But given the loan rules, there is perhaps a real opportunity for the former Motherwell man to add to his teammate’s problems.