Sunderland boss reveals what has impressed him most about Jack Clarke since taking charge
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Micheal Beale was well aware of Jack Clarke's abilities as a winger when taking charge at Sunderland but says it is his dedication to his craft that has impressed him the most.
Clarke scored his 14th goal of the Championship campaign during the 3-1 win over Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, taking his total number of goal contributions for the season so far to a hugely impressive 18.
Sunderland turned down bids from Lazio towards the end of the January transfer window and will likely have to field more interest in the summer as the 23-year-old continues to catch the eye with his outstanding performances. Beale is thrilled that the club have been able to resist any interest to date and says that working closely with the player has given him an appreciation of his qualities away from just the pitch.
Sunderland's head coach says he believes Clarke's willingness to learn has already led to some improvements in his performances out of possession in recent weeks.
"You see all the things that Jack does in terms of the final third but I get a unique insight into him in terms of the boy," Beale said.
"So now I'm working with him, I can see that he's super fit, he wants to get better and so he's asking questions - he's improved defensively since I've been here just by taking on some advice. In the big moments in the game, he doesn't go hiding and he steps up for his club and for his team mates. He's calm in front of goal. I wouldn't want to compare him to anyone but I would say that he's an impressive young man, not just an impressive footballer."
Despite the interest in January, Clarke told Sky Sports after the recent draw with Middlesbrough that he was still loving life on Wearside: "I am happy to be here.
"I enjoy every minute of playing for Sunderland and pulling on the shirt. For me, the stuff that gets said on the outside doesn't seem to bother me. As long as I'm coming in everyday wearing a Sunderland shirt, I'm happy."