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Michael Clark ‘settled’ after run of games at Leyton Orient and learned a lot during final months of season

PUBLISHED: 15:00 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:13 31 May 2017

Leyton Orient defender Michael Clark gets above Cambridge United forward Uche Ikpeazu to head clear (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient defender Michael Clark gets above Cambridge United forward Uche Ikpeazu to head clear (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

Hatfield youngster reflects on learning curve against Doncaster Rovers and playing with former academy team-mate Aron Pollock

Michael Clark made his first start for Leyton Orient against Stevenage (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). Michael Clark made his first start for Leyton Orient against Stevenage (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Michael Clark enjoyed his run in the Leyton Orient first-team towards the end of last season despite the difficult circumstances at the club and felt playing more regularly allowed him to adjust to life in League Two.

The 19-year-old made his O’s debut as a substitute against Cheltenham Town on February 25.

Clark started at Stevenage three days later and impressed, but had to wait three more weeks before playing again.

A difficult home debut against Doncaster Rovers followed on March 18 before the former youth-team captain got another opportunity at Cambridge on April 8.

The teen enjoyed a regular run in the side after playing at the Abbey Stadium - starting O’s final six games.

“When you are playing more consistently you become more comfortable and towards the end of the season I felt like that,” said Clark.

“All you need is games to get you the experience you need and then you settle into it more. Cambridge was the first match of my run and I remember being in the changing room feeling a bit shaky.

Leyton Orient players Sam Dalby (left) and Michael Clark (right) go over to the travelling support at the end of the match with Blackpool (pic: Alex Dodd). Leyton Orient players Sam Dalby (left) and Michael Clark (right) go over to the travelling support at the end of the match with Blackpool (pic: Alex Dodd).

“But I look at myself before Blackpool and I felt fine. I didn’t have many nerves, so I guess I had settled into playing League Two football by then. I really enjoyed the run I got.”

Clark showed his class towards the end of the campaign and played in a number of different formations.

He played at right-back in a 4-4-2 and as a central defender in a back three and a back four for Orient.

The composure of the Hatfield youngster caught the eye along with his anticipation and tackling technique.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Clark though, as he had a difficult time against Doncaster in March.

On his third senior appearance for O’s, the teen struggled to cope with John Marquis and Alfie May.

Fellow youngster Aron Pollock also had a tough match, but it proved to be a crucial learning curve.

Michael Clark (left) and Aron Pollock (centre) have progressed through Leyton Orient's academy together (pic: Simon O'Connor). Michael Clark (left) and Aron Pollock (centre) have progressed through Leyton Orient's academy together (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Clark added: “That was a day to forget, but it is all about experience and both Aron and I did learn a lot from that game despite how bad it went.”

The duo ended the campaign as regular starters and both showed the promise which has seen them highly rated by the club since their scholar days.

Due to injuries, the pair didn’t feature together a huge amount while in the O’s academy between 2014 and 2016.

But with both contracted to the club for next season, Clark and Pollock will hope to partner each other a lot more in the National League.

“Aron and I didn’t actually play many youth-team games together because we both got injuries,” said Clark.

“He had a bad back injury in the first year of our scholarship and I had a knee injury in the second year, but we have been around each other every day, so it was good to play alongside him.”

With the right characters around them, there is potential for Clark and Pollock to be regulars at Orient for many years to come.

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