After a man of the match display in the 1-1 draw with Southampton on Monday night, Aston Villa centre-back Ciaran Clark is eager to push himself further into manager Paul Lambert’s plans.
Clark, 25, made 28 total appearances for Villa last season, but his performances during a relegation-threatened campaign came in for considerable criticism from the fans.
With the signing of Philippe Senderos this summer, the Republic of Ireland international found himself fourth choice going into the new term, with captain Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker also ahead of him in the pecking order, and a potential loan move elsewhere rumoured.
Injuries to all three forced him into action against the Saints, however, and even earned special praise from Lambert, along with centre-back partner Jores Okore, who was making his first senior appearance since suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in September 2013.
“The two centre-backs, the young ones were outstanding. Jores has been out for 14 months and I thought he was fantastic,” the Scot said post-match.
“But I thought Ciaran, grew up tonight and took the lead role and he was outstanding.”
Clark himself was full of praise for Okore and now, with their positional teammates all expected to be out for a few more weeks, is hoping to continue the partnership moving forward.
"It was brilliant for both of us,” he told the club’s official website.
"I have been in and out this season. Jores hasn't played for about 14 months and he has done fantastically well to come back from that injury. It was a serious one.
"He's been showing in training that's been getting fit and ready to play. I thought he did brilliantly in the game.
"With myself, it's been about being patient and waiting for my chance. To get a start with Jores has been brilliant for the both of us.
"Looking at it, I have played for Ireland the other week and Villa now against Southampton. I want to keep playing games. I don't want the run to stop. I want to carry on doing well."
This Saturday will present Clark’s next chance to impress, with Villa travelling to Burnley in the hopes of claiming a first win in nine Premier League matches.