Nathan Clarke feels like he has returned ‘home’ after sealing a somewhat shock loan move to Walsham-le-Willows from Needham Market.
The 23-year-old centre-half confirmed this week that he had agreed to join Paul Smith’s title-challenging Willows initially for a month with Needham manager Danny Laws looking to trim his squad.
Despite making 29 appearances in all competitions, scoring nine goals, the second highest Marketmen marksman this season, Smith’s approach for Clarke was accepted, leading to the player dropping down from the Ryman League to the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.
Despite dropping a division, Clarke is relishing the opportunity to return to Summer Road, where played prior to joining AFC Sudbury, but reaffirmed his long-term future remains at Bloomfields.
“We had a meeting and Danny Laws said he was looking for three or four to go and my name came up as an option to go out on loan,” he explained.
“It came as a surprise but after considering it I came round to the idea and felt like it was a worthwhile option.
“I haven’t been fit or playing well this season after my operation in the summer and it is not fair on Needham who pay my wages.
“I have had a tough recovery and having no pre-season has played a massive part in that, I’ve been fighting a losing battle and it hasn’t helped anyone.
“Hopefully I can now regain my confidence and form at Walsham and take that back with me because I’m still a Needham player.
“If any other club had come in for me, I would have turned it down, but Walsham is like home for me and it seemed fitting to come back.
“In an ideal situation I can help Walsham win the league and then return to Needham a better player ready for next season.”
For Walsham, who are due to host fourth-placed Gorleston tomorrow (3pm), weather permitting, the move will come as a boost in their quest for the league title, with veteran centre-half Gavin Johnson condemned to the sidelines for a further four weeks and Lee Sim set to serve a suspension.
The manager, whose side remain top of the league, a point ahead of Mildenhall Town, hailed the coup and remains confident Clarke can play a big role for the duration of his time at the club.
“Nathan is a massive signing for us and will certainly help us out for as long as he’s here,” he said.
“It takes the pressure off of us with our defensive issues and will give everyone that little extra lift.
“In a way this is like him coming home, he knows everyone well here and should fit in perfectly.”