Billy eyes stateside stint

Billy Clarke is hopeful of a summer loan to the MLS soccer league in America to prove his fitness
Billy Clarke is hopeful of a summer loan to the MLS soccer league in America to prove his fitness
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BILLY Clarke is considering a summer loan move to Major League Soccer to prove he’s fully over the serious knee injury which has ruined his season.

If it’s given the green light by boss Ian Holloway, Clarke could find himself heading to America to play for sides such as David Beckham’s LA Galaxy or Thierry Henry’s New York Bulls between April and July.

The idea is for the striker to get matches under his belt and show he has recovered from the ruptured cruciate that ended what would have been his first Premier League campaign before it had even begun.

Clarke would be back in England on July 20 and ready to play a full part in pre-season preparations.

“I have to sit down with the manager and the physio and see what they think, but it would be nice to get some competitive games in during the off-season, then come back fully fit pre-season,” said the 23-year-old, who started for the reserves against Bolton last night – his second taste of action since suffering his knee injury last summer.

“It is an option that I would really like to do.

“Hopefully then I’d come back for our pre-season having played eight or nine games on my knee.

“Then the injury would be fully behind me and I won’t be worrying about it.

“But it is up to the manager and the physio, I’ll have to see what they think.”

Clarke admits it has been mentally tough to keep his spirits up during eight months on the sidelines.

The injury hit him even harder because he had been thrilled at the prospect of a first ever taste of Premier League football.

But it was ripped away from him when he suffered his season-ending injury just two minutes into the first pre-season friendly, at Tiverton Town last July.

“It’s been a long, long road to recovery and half the battle is mental,” Clarke said.

“Any niggles I feel, I immediately think ‘is there something wrong?’ But you are always going to feel them for a while.

“You just need to get over that, to realise it is not something abnormal – it is just natural.

“You are going to have aches and pains, so that is something mentally to get over.

“When I played for the first time in almost eight months last week (Clarke came on as a second-half substitute in a reserve match against Wolves), I was anxious because I’d been out so long.

“As selfish as it sounds it was just good to get on the pitch. I wasn’t looking at the scoreline or how I did, it was just nice to get out there and run around and have a few touches of the ball.

“There aren’t too many reserve games left so I’ll probably play a little longer in the next one and then try and build it up until I get 90 minutes.

“But after so long out it is just nice to be back and I am buzzing about playing again.”