Harry Clarke aiming high in Hibs colours as new boy reflects on Ross County experience
It sounds like a pub quiz question: which player made two appearances at Easter Road in the space of 26 days and both times was on the losing side but for different teams, neither of them Hibs?
The answer, of course, is Harry Clarke. The 20-year-old played for Arsenal in their 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat in July and played the second 45 minutes for loan side Ross County in a 3-0 defeat in early August.
Now he’s returning to EH7, this time in the green and white of Hibs. The versatile defender has signed an 18-month loan deal this week and could make his debut against Celtic on January 17.
Clarke is the third signing of the January window and there could well be further comings and goings before the end of the month, but the Gunners player is eager to get going after penning his second loan deal of the campaign.
"The size of the club and playing in front of more fans in a big stadium, and the new manager and the way he wants to play football was enticing,” he told HibsTV.
"He explained the way he want to play football and straight away it appealed to me. He's very football-intelligent, he knows the way he wants to play, he wants to dominate, and he seems really passionate about winning and that for me is enough.
"I want at least double figures for goals and assists, if not more. I set myself targets. I didn’t think I would score at Ross County but I did and now I have to push on.
"At one end I’ll defend for my life, and at the other end I’ll try to score goals.”
Ipswich-born Clarke joined his hometown side as a youngster after being spotted playing for Brantham Athletic. He eventually left the Tractor Boys and joined Arsenal in 2015 but his spell with the Staggies was his first outwith English football, a loan stint with Oldham in the 2020/21 season yielding 35 games and one goal.
But save for that appearance for Mikel Arteta’s side during the summer, Clarke had never been to Scotland, so temporarily relocating to the Highlands was a big call.
"There were a few doubts before I joined Ross County. I’d never been all that way north before – I’d never really been to Scotland before I joined them,” Clarke added.
“But it’s such a beautiful place, with beautiful people, and I don't have a bad word to say about the club.
"Playing in the SPFL has been amazing. It’s a massive platform. I didn’t know much about Scottish football before coming but I’m really glad I did.”
Clarke has his personal targets now he has joined Hibs but he is also aware of the club’s aims.
“Personally, I want to keep ticking games off. Game time is so valuable to me, so I want to keep playing. I want to get some clean sheets too.
“For the club, Europe. We want to chase third place down and see where we can go from there.”