By Matt Farr
Newcastle fans are eagerly anticipating the return of Ciaran Clark to the first team following the defeat to Ipswich Town on Monday afternoon.
The Magpies gave an abject defensive display at Portman Road, conceding three sloppy goals as Ipswich cruised to a 3-1 victory, with the 27-year-old still sidelined through injury.
Clark has been out with a knee injury since the 3-1 defeat to Fulham last month, during which time Newcastle have shipped seven goals and kept just two clean sheets.
The Republic of Ireland international has been a popular figure at St. James’ Park following his move to the club from Aston Villa last summer.
But he could be back in action for Newcastle in time for their next outing against Preston in a week’s time, having already returned to first team training.
However, Newcastle’s ongoing defensive woes in the absence of Clark has left fans calling for him to return to action as soon as possible.
Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:
— Camilla Hjelmen???? (@CHjelmen) April 17, 2017
Get in Derby a slightly better way to end the day. Let's do the business next Monday please and let's have Ciaran Clark back.
— Harry Nufc (@Harry_Nufc5) April 17, 2017
If fit (and not in Mr Smiths) Ciaran Clark to partner Mbemba for me next week #NUFC
— kevin taylor (@gordonbennett12) April 17, 2017
Think that this poor run of form just goes to show how important Ciaran Clark is. Lascelles is definitely the most overrated player at #NUFC
— ᴬᵈᵃᵐ (@AdamLittle99) April 17, 2017
— Andrew Elliott (@AndrewElliott_) April 17, 2017
The sooner #NUFC get Clark back the better
— Davey (@DaveySurrey) April 17, 2017
The squad was/is good enough. Missed Clark simple
— Whitby Mag ???????? (@WhitbyNUFC) April 17, 2017
That is testament to how bad #NUFC are without Ciaran Clark. Have been awful defensively since he's been out.
— David McKenny (@david_mckenny) April 17, 2017
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez had selected Grant Hanley to partner Jamaal Lascelles at the heart of the defence, but the pair gave an unconvincing display against Ipswich.
Benitez had earlier picked Chancel Mbemba in his starting eleven during the 1-1 draw with Leeds on Friday, but chose to draft in the Scotland international to face Ipswich.
In other Newcastle news, here is how fans reacted as promotion rivals Huddersfield dropped points against Derby.