Aston Villa Academy graduate Mitch Clark made his senior debut for the club back in the 2017/18 campaign in our FA Cup victory over Wigan Athletic, but to date, that has been his only senior appearance and last August he saw himself loaned out to League Two side Port Vale.
The 20-year-old was sent out on a season long loan spell and it caused consternation amongst some fans who used it as a stick to beat former manager Steve Bruce with, but the simple fact is, despite our lack of numbers in defence, the Welshman needed game time and to learn on the job – and ultimately to make his mistakes elsewhere as he developed his game further.
He has done just that after a choppy start to life at Vale Park, but he soon established himself as a first team regular and boasts 40 starting appearances and one substitute showing to his name.
Reflecting on his development curve with them recently, he told their Official Site.
“I’ve played more league games than I thought and I’ve enjoyed it! I had a bad spell before and I was coming in and out the team but hopefully I’ve showed people what I can do. When the gaffer came in I was a bit nervous about what was going to happen, I played the first three games and I didn’t do my best. Rightly so I was dropped but then I came back into the side when Gibbo got injured and took my chance. Since the gaffer’s arrived I can see myself watching back how much I’ve improved since he came in and that’s all I can ask for.”
Presumably, in the same round of interviews, he was also quoted by the Stoke Sentinel that Villa were yet to contact him over a new deal, given his existing one expires at the end of the current season.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season. The season ends in five or six games and Villa have to come to me and tell me what is going to happen. Then I will go from there, but at the minute I am happy being at Vale. At the minute nothing has happened. I have not had a discussion with Villa about what my situation is. Neither has my agent so I am just going to ride it out until the end of the season and go from there.”
With the youngster not ruling out a potential future at Port Vale, there are things people need to consider.
I very much doubt our current owners will be as daft as to not ensure we at least get training compensation for the player by simply offering him 12 months on his current terms – ala the huge mistake we made with Marc Albrighton when his face no longer fit under Paul Lambert and Tom Fox.
Secondly, the last I heard, Vale owner Norman Smurthwaite is turning to tap off shortly and he’s in negotiations with potential new owners, so unless we do bizarrely let Clark go as a complete freebie, there are financial implications.
If head coach Dean Smith doesn’t fancy him despite all the glowing reports we’ve read, our CEO would surely ensure that even if he leaves for nowt, a deal is done for a massive future sell on fee that suits all parties.
Alternatively, given his age and if a Port Vale move is wanted as opposed to elsewhere, we can extend his deal and loan him again to see his stock rise higher, thus protecting our investment even further.
Let alone the fact it would be daft for him to say anything else about considering Vale as a future destination given how the fans have taken to him.
Ultimately it means we are in no rush and can fully assess things properly when our focus isn’t taken up by our Play-Off battle and Smith can spend a few hours reviewing his progress before coming to a decision.
Villa ahve been bitten plenty of times by rushing into deals, there’s no harm in taking our time now.