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Gloucester City go AGAINST signing ex-Premier League player after turning out for them

Gloucester City go AGAINST signing an ex-Premier League player after he had been turning out for them during their pre-season schedule.

The National League North outfit have decided against giving a permanent deal to striker Leon Clarke, as per a report by Gloucestershire Live.

Over the last few weeks, they had been watching the 36 year old’s progress, with the forward a free agent after being released by Shrewsbury Town at the end of last season.

It’s now revealed however that he will have to elsewhere for a new club, and I’m sure there will be no shortage of clubs at that level who would snap him up.

As seen in the photo above, he turned of for the club, playing in a game against Coventry City XI, with the non league outfit winning 4-1 in front of nearly 700 fans at the New Meadow Park.

MORE ON LEON CLARKE:

He progressed through Wolves’ youth academy and made his senior debut for his hometown club in a League Cup win over Darlington on the 23rd of September 2003. He did not feature at all in the team’s Premier League campaign of that season, but was awarded a two-year contract extension during it.

After a loan period at Kidderminster Harriers in Spring 2004, he made his breakthrough into the Wolves first team in the 2004–05 season, making his league debut as a sub in their opening match at Stoke and scored his first goal in the following game against Preston. before ending the campaign with eight goals from 31 appearances.

During the 2005–06 season, it was a mixed one, benefiting from injuries to others in the early part of the season, but slipped down the pecking order later in the season, after new players were brought in. He angered sections of the Wolves’ support after making a “shhh”-ing gesture toward the crowd after he scored a goal against Plymouth in January 2006. Manager Glenn Hoddle wasn’t critical of Clarke’s gesture, but the striker had only been selected once more during the remainder of the season and was twice loaned out to other Championship sides Queens Park Rangers and Plymouth Argyle, failing to score at either.

Clarke returned to feature regularly for Wolves during the first half of the 2006–07 campaign and set himself a target of 15 goals for the campaign. Though, in the January transfer window he was transfer-listed when manager Mick McCarthy said he wanted to “freshen up” the strike force.

In January 2007, then Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws announced the signing of Clarke for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £300,000 signing a contract until 2009. He was issued with the number 18 shirt, but only made five substitute appearances for the club before it was announced that he was to spend a month on loan at League One promotion-chasing side Oldham Athletic after Clarke requested a loan move to gain playing time. The striker played five times for Oldham, scoring three times; his first goal coming against Doncaster Rovers in a 4–0 victory on 11 March 2007.

After returning to Hillsborough, he was immediately placed in the first team and scored on his first start in a 2–1 victory at Cardiff City. The early stages of the 2007–08 season saw him only start one game and he was again loaned out, joining League One Southend United until January on the final day of the 2007 summer transfer window. After scored on his club debut and set up both other goals in a 3–0 win against Gillingham, Clarke ended this loan spell with eight goals from 16 appearances. He returned to his parent club, but was restricted to one start and five substitute appearances in the rest of the 2007–08 season.

Although the 2008–09 season began with Clarke being told he was now surplus to requirements at Sheffield Wednesday, he stayed with the team and achieved his best goal return for them as he ended the campaign with eight goals from 30 appearances. He was rewarded with a contract extension for a further year after his manager praised him making “a fantastic amount of progress” during the year.

The following term saw Clarke score six further goals, including one against Crystal Palace on the final day of the season in a match that could have seen either side relegated from the Championship. However, in celebrating the goal, he kicked the advertising boarding, dislocated his toe and had to be subbed. The game finished 2–2, which saw Wednesday relegated to League One. Three days later it was announced he would not be offered a new contract.

Clarke signed for Queens Park Rangers on the 21st of May 2010 on a two-year contract, with manager Neil Warnock stating that he believed Clarke had “underachieved” but was “worth a gamble”. However, he struggled to make any impact, failing to score in 15 appearances before being loaned to Preston in January 2011 until the end of the season. He scored his only goal during his six Preston games on the 15th of February 2011 against Watford.

On the 19th of August 2011, QPR – who won promotion to the Premier League – confirmed that Clarke’s contract had been terminated by mutual consent. The same day, he signed for League Two side Swindon Town on a two-year contract.

After a 3-1 defeat to Southampton, Clarke was involved in an altercation with Claudio Donatelli, the Swindon fitness coach, with manager Paolo Di Canio intervening, with both the boss and player shown on television cameras arguing and having to be separated by coaching staff. Swindon chairman Jeremy Wray subsequently confirmed that the club would be looking to offload Clarke on loan as a result of the incident and Di Canio himself stated that Clarke would never play for Swindon whilst he (Di Canio) remained as manager.

On the 8th of September, he signed a three-month loan deal at League One club Chesterfield. Manager John Sheridan was in charge at Oldham when Clarke spent a loan spell there. Following his loan move to Chesterfield, Clarke denied comments by Di Canio that he is “not very professional”. He subsequently scored on his home debut, followed by a first professional hat-trick against Carlisle, to end his loan spell with nine goals from 16 appearances.

On the 1st of January 2012, Clarke signed for Charlton Athletic as part of a swap deal in exchange for Paul Benson. He made his first appearance for Charlton on the 2nd of January 2012, coming on as a sub against Brentford in a 2–0 victory. However, his time at Charlton was short as Clarke struggled; made only one start. In March 2012, he was loaned out to Crawley Town until the end of the season. he made only three appearances, scoring his only goal for the club in March against Bradford.

In the summer transfer window, Charlton rejected bids for Clarke from both Cheltenham Town and Oldham Athletic, but he did not return to the Charlton team and instead was again loaned out, this time joining Scunthorpe United in September 2012 on a three-month loan. He expressed doubts regarding his future at the Addicks.

After finding the net six times in his first eight games, it was reported that Charlton were keen to use Clarke, once his loan spell ended and therefore Scunthorpe would be unable to sign him on a permanent basis. He ended this loan stay with 11 goals from 15 appearances.

On Christmas Eve 2012, Clarke was given permission by Charlton to train with League One side Coventry City with a view to a permanent move. On New Years Day 2013, having initially been granted a loan move, he made his debut in a 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury Town. After a first start in a 3-0 defeat at Tottenham in the FA Cup, he signed a permanent two-and-a-half-year deal as a free transfer after Charlton had agreed to cancel his contract.

He scored his first goal for Coventry in a 3–2 victory over Preston in the EFL Trophy in January 2013, then Clarke ended the 2012–13 season by scoring eight goals in eleven games in the league until an ankle complaint meant he underwent surgery in March, ruling him out for the remainder of the season. At the end of the campaign he was named in the division’s PFA Team of the Year.

The 2013–14 season saw Coventry City deducted ten points for failing to agree to a CVA and also having been forced to relocate their home games to Northampton’s Sixfields. Clarke’s first fourteen league games saw him score eleven times and had a goalscoring partnership with young striker Callum Wilson, who scored ten in the first twelve games. His form led to him being linked with a number of EFL clubs due to Coventry’s financial plight, including the likes of Scunthorpe, Sheffield United and former club Swindon.

The January 2014 transfer window produced renewed interest in Clarke, who had produced the best goal return of his career with 18 goals in half a season, with his former side Wolves reportedly bidding for him. Amid this speculation Clarke entered a transfer request and didn’t feature in a further match after citing a foot injury which provoked an unhappy reaction from his manager Steven Pressley. On the 29th of January, Wolves announced that they had had their bid for Clarke formally accepted by Coventry.

In January 2014, Clarke rejoined his first club Wolves, then playing in League One, after signing an eighteen-month deal (with Wolves holding the option of an additional year) for an undisclosed fee reported to be £750,000. On signing, Clarke admitted that he had shown “a lot of immaturity” during his first spell at the club and that he believed he was now “a completely different person”. He made his second Wolves debut on the 1st of February in a 2–0 win over Bradford, with his first goal since rejoining coming on the 11th of March in a 4–1 win at Swindon. This was his only goal for Wolves though during the remaining games of the season as they won the League One title.

Back at Championship level, Clarke scored twice during 16 league appearances before being loaned out in February 2015 to Wigan Athletic for the remainder of the season. He scored one goal for the Latics but could not prevent them from going down to League One. At the conclusion of the season, Wolves announced that they would not be taking up the option of an additional year’s contract.

On the 2nd of June 2015, Clarke signed for League One club Bury on a three-year deal after his release from Wolves. Clarke made his league debut on the 8th of August in the 1–1 draw with Doncaster, in a game which saw Bury and Clarke allowed to equalise by walking the ball into the goal after Doncaster’s Harry Forrester accidentally volleyed the ball into Bury’s goal to restart play.

On the 11th of August, he continued to shine by scoring a brace in a 2–1 win over Wigan in the first round of the League Cup, including the go ahead penalty in the 89th minute.

In July 2016, Clarke signed a three-year deal with Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee, scoring his first goal for Sheffield United in a 2–1 EFL Cup loss against Crewe Alexandra on the 9th of August 2016.

Clarke played Sheffield Wednesday on the 24th of September 2017 and scored two goals in a 4–2 win for Sheffield United.

On the 4th of November 2017, Clarke scored all four goals in a 4–1 win over Hull City, becoming the first Sheffield United player to score four goals in one game since Keith Edwards in 1983.

He followed this up with a hat-trick in a defeat against Fulham and a goal against Birmingham, rounding out the month of November having scored nine goals in four games.

He was named Player of the Month for November, winning plenty of praise from fans, his manager and pundits.

In April, Clarke was named in the PFA Team of the Year, following a career high goalscoring season for Sheffield United.

On the 30th of January 2019, Clarke was loaned to Wigan Athletic for the second time in his career, until the end of the season.

He was transfer-listed by Sheffield United at the end of the 2018–19 season.

Clarke made his first ever appearance in the Premier League on the 28th of September 2019, coming on as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat against Liverpool, at the age of 34, and 16 years into his professional career.

On the 25th of September 2020, Clarke signed for League One club Shrewsbury Town on a one-year deal. He made his debut for the club the next day, replacing Daniel Udoh in the 70th minute of a 1–1 draw away at Plymouth. His first start for the club came a week later on the 3rd October, also a 1–1 draw, this time at home to Gillingham. On the 17th of October, Clarke scored his first goal for the club, heading in a 91st-minute winner from a Josh Vela corner away to AFC Wimbledon at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.

On the 12th of May 2021, it was announced that he would leave Shrewsbury at the end of the season, following the expiry of his contract.

Gloucester City go AGAINST signing the ex-Premier League player after turning out for them and he now continues his search for a new club.

LEON CLARKE’S CAREER STATS:

2003–2007 – Wolverhampton Wanderers – 74 games (13 goals)
2004 → Kidderminster Harriers (loan) – 4 games (0 goals)
2006 → Queens Park Rangers (loan) – 1 game (0 goals)
2006 → Plymouth Argyle (loan) – 5 games (0 goals)
2007–2010 – Sheffield Wednesday – 83 games (18 goals)
2007 → Oldham Athletic (loan) – 5 games (3 goals)
2007–2008 → Southend United (loan) – 16 games (8 goals)
2010–2011 – Queens Park Rangers – 13 games (0 goals)
2011 → Preston North End (loan) – 6 games (1 goal)
2011–2012 – Swindon Town – 2 games (0 goals)
2011 → Chesterfield (loan) – 14 games (9 goals)
2012–2013 – Charlton Athletic – 7 games (0 goals)
2012 → Crawley Town (loan) – 4 games (1 goal)
2012 → Scunthorpe United (loan) – 15 games (11 goals)
2013 → Coventry City (loan) – 1 game (0 goals)
2013–2014 – Coventry City – 34 games (23 goals)
2014–2015 – Wolverhampton Wanderers – 29 games (3 goals)
2015 → Wigan Athletic (loan) – 10 games (1 goal)
2015–2016 – Bury – 32 games (15 goals)
2016–2020 – Sheffield United – 88 games (29 goals)
2019 → Wigan Athletic (loan) – 15 games (3 goals)
2020–2021 Shrewsbury Town – 10 games (1 goal)

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