Villa's Midlands rivals are said to have been weighing up a £4 million move for the Republic of Ireland international.
West Bromwich Albion are keen on a £4 million move for Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark, according to the Daily Star, but the Republic of Ireland defender has been assured that he is an integral part of manager Tim Sherwood’s long-term plans.
Clark, 25, started last season with some doubts hanging over his Villa future as the club’s fourth choice centre-back, with reports claiming that he could be loaned out after falling down the pecking order [h/t Birmingham Mail].
However, a spate of defensive injuries saw the Ireland international brought back into the line-up for November’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton, as he would build on an impressive performance to start all but two of the following 26 games.
Earning rave reviews in the process, the resurgent stopper was being touted as the club’s player of the season heading into the run-in but then saw his campaign cut cruelly short after suffering knee ligament damage in April’s 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur.
|2014-15 Premier League||Position||Team||Errors Lead To Goal||Total Tackles GAME||Tackle Accuracy||Total Clearances GAME||Headers Won GAME||Aerial Duel Success||Interceptions GAME||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Jores Okore||DF||Aston Villa||0||2.22||75%||6.48||2.09||56.47%||2.83||86%||23||2,009|
|Ciaran Clark||DF||Aston Villa||0||1.56||87%||8||3.04||64.96%||1.88||79%||25||1,991|
|Nathan Baker||DF||Aston Villa||0||1.27||71%||9.27||3.36||58.73%||1.64||77%||11||763|
|Philippe Senderos||DF||Aston Villa||0||0.88||43%||6||0.75||46.15%||1.13||82%||8||632|
|Ron Vlaar||DF||Aston Villa||1||0.85||65%||5.75||1.2||52.17%||2.05||82%||20||1,646|
With Sherwood since bringing in Micah Richards as his first new signing with the intention of using the versatile defender at centre-half, the increase in competition for places at the back is expected to make at least one of Clark, Jores Okore, Nathan Baker, Philippe Senderos and soon-to-be free agent Ron Vlaar expendable.
In addition, the club have also been linked with an ambitious swoop for Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna this week, suggesting that Sherwood is still not done bolstering his back-line [h/t TuttoMercatoWeb].
That in mind, the Star claims that West Brom had been planning an approach for Clark, who is expected to be fit for the start of next term, but the Villa ace has now made it clear that he has no intension of moving to the Hawthorns after being assured of his first-team place.
A Villa insider is quoted in the report as revealing: "Ciaran is working hard on his rehab and should be fit by August. The signing of Micah Richards does not affect his position at Villa."
Instead, it is Vlaar who is expected to move on this summer, with the newspaper adding that Sherwood is reluctant to break the bank to re-sign the Dutchman due to both his age and ongoing fitness woes.
While Villa fans remain split over whether the club should cut ties with their now ex-skipper, the news on Clark will come as a welcome relief after his resurgent 2014-15 campaign and, if all goes to plan with his rehab, then he should be in the starting XI for next term’s opener at Bournemouth.
Who would start alongside him remains to be seen but, with Sherwood now having the personnel at his disposal to even experiment with a three-man backline, all should become clearer as the summer progresses.