Wilder influence key to Clarke’s decision to sign for Cobblers

New Cobblers goalkeeper Ryan Clarke
New Cobblers goalkeeper Ryan Clarke

Ryan Clarke admits the fact Chris Wilder is the Cobblers manager had a ‘massive’ impact on his decision to leave Oxford United and sign on at Sixfields.

The goalkeeper was signed for Oxford by Wilder in 2009, with the move ultimately paving a way back into the Football League for the player who was then plying his trade for Northwich.

Six years and close to 300 games later, current Oxford boss Michael Appleton made it clear to Clarke that his future lay away from the Kassam Stadium, and the player has decided to make the short hop down the A43 to start afresh at Sixfields.

It is clear that Clarke has a huge amount of respect for Wilder, and admitted that the fact he is the Cobblers manager played a big part in the move.

Asked if Wilder being the Town boss was an important part in the move, Clarke admitted: “It was massive.

“That’s because you know that if Chris is in charge of a team then whatever level it is they are going to be in the mix and there or thereabouts.

“On a football level it was a no-brainer, because you want to be up there challenging for things, and I know Chris is a pure footballing man.

“I don’t know anybody else that has standards as high as he has, and as a player that is good as he keeps you on your toes.

“Obviously I have worked with him before, I know what’s coming, and it’s good to back working with him and hopefully being part of a good team.”

Rumours have been rife all summer that Wilder would make a move for Clarke, but the deal has only been finalised this week.

The Cobblers, who signed Adam Smith from Leicester City last week, were also very close to signing a different goalkeeper on loan last weekend which suggests the Clarke deal wasn’t always a definite.

The player, who still had 12 months of his contract to run at Oxford, even reported for pre-season training at the Kassam this week.

But with Appleton signing Sam Slocombe from Scunthorpe United, Clarke knew his days were finally numbered and he is delighted to get his future sorted out.

“It has been a long summer, and it is nice to officially get everything sorted and start the new job,” said Clarke, who has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Sixfields.

“I am just excited to get started, I’m ready for lots of hard work, and I just can’t wait to get out on the pitch and show everybody what I can do, including the players, fans and management.”

Clarke was a popular player at Oxford and a real fans’ favourite, and although he admits it is hard to leave the club after six years, he is only looking forward.

Asked if it was difficult to make the decision to quit the Kassam, Clarke admitted: “Yeah it was.

“I had six good years with Oxford and I can leave with my head held high.

“We had a good promotion and went close on another couple of occasions, but that is all in the past now for me.

“It’s all about going into a new building and working hard for another team.”