Republic of Ireland international Ciaran Clark has signed a new three year contract at Aston Villa as Paul Lambert secures the players future at Villa Park.
After a season in which the player grew in stature for the Birmingham side, Lambert is looking to keep his young crew of players together.
Clark had just 12 months to run on his current contract and the Irishman is seen as key to Villa’s pursuit of mid-table consolidation at least next season. While Villa struggled last season and flirted with relegation, it’s widely accepted that Villa have one of the most exciting crop of young players in the top flight.
The 23-year-old Harrow born player came through the youth ranks at Villa Park, spending 9 years playing at underage level before making the jump to the first team squad in 2009 and since then he has made 64 appearances and scored 5 times.
Clark’s versatility allows him to play central midfield, central defence and at left-back. He captained the Villa reserve team to league success in 2009 and the 2009-10 season saw his breakthrough to the first team proper.
Despite captaining England at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 levels, Clark declared for the Republic of Ireland in 2010.
Clark’s debut was against Wales in 2011 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Since then he has gradually worked his way into the Irish side and has forced Sean St. Ledger out of the side and with Richard Dunne only playing once, through injury, in the last 12 months, he has formed a solid central defensive partnership with Sunderland’s John O’Shea.
Despite a high profile mistake by the player in a game against Manchester City in March, Lambert’s faith in the player was unwavering. Despite his error handing the game to City, he said: “I thought we were well in the game. The goal is a mistake. I wouldn’t have minded if someone had put one in the top corner with a bit of skill. But it’s a mistake by us. It is easy to be critical of Ciaran. The lad has been excellent all season. He will learn from it, he won’t make the same mistake again.”
Lambert has backed up his public show of faith in the player with a new contract and the player will be eager in turn to repay the faith shown, With Clark’s tidy, agile style of play, he fits in well to Lambert’s ideology of how this team should play. With his future now secured, the next few years could well show the player coming to fruition.