Hibs loanee Harry Clarke 'not anticipating Arsenal return' despite managerial uncertainty

Hibs loanee Harry Clarke doesn’t expect to return to parent club Arsenal ahead of the end of his 18-month loan deal, which expires at the end of next season.
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Speaking ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Dundee for the club’s penultimate game of the Scottish Premiership season, Clarke insisted he was looking forward to spending next season in the Capital while acknowledging the two break clauses in his contract that allow the Gunners to recall him this summer, or during the next winter transfer window.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here till the end of next season, and I’m looking forward to that. There’s nothing else.

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"We have still got two games left of this season so I’m not really looking into it as much. There are break clauses in summer and and January, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m here for another 12 months.”

The 21-year-old is in regular contact with his parent club who are keeping a close eye on his progress in Edinburgh, and he credits former Arsenal defender and, until last year, Under-23s coach Steve Bould with prepping him for making the most of loan spells as he aims for the top in London with a series of loans away from the English capital.

“I speak to the loan manager Ben Knapper regularly and also the strength and conditioning coach, I speak to them and they look at all my data. We talk through games and that sort of thing,” he explained.

"Steve was my 23s manager two years ago, he had a big influence on me. He changed my game and changed the way I looked at the game and was really helpful.

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“That was a year before I went on loan. He prepared me and gave me the tools I needed moving away from home, things like that. Mentally, more than game stuff.

Harry Clarke is looking forward to next season with HibsHarry Clarke is looking forward to next season with Hibs
Harry Clarke is looking forward to next season with Hibs

"In my first loan I went to Oldham, which is still four hours away from home, but Inverness is three days away! Edinburgh is slightly closer to home, I miss my family but that’s part of the job. I don’t mind being away.”

Prior to joining Ross County for the first half of the current campaign Clarke admits he didn’t have much idea about the game north of the Border. All that has changed now, though.

“When I first came up here, I didn’t know much about Scottish football and I said that openly. Apart from the Rangers-Celtic games, you don’t watch a lot.

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"But the people I knew, my family and friends, they’ve all started to get into Scottish football. It’s a great league and more people should get involved.”

Had Clarke stayed in Dingwall for the whole season he could now be playing in a team challenging for Europe. But he has no regrets.

“These things happen sometimes; you move away from a club, they do well and maybe the club you go to doesn’t.

"But I’ve played at Hampden, I’ve played in Edinburgh derbies. There hasn’t been a trophy or top six but we have next year. It’s just about coming to a bigger club, performing on a bigger platform where there are more fans, and proving what I can do.

"Right now we’re trying to put points on the board and finish the season strongly.”

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