HUDDERSFIELD Town boss Lee Clark spoke of his delight at naming keeper Alex Smithies in his squad for the first time since March – and predicted Peter Clarke will soon be back in the frame.
While Smithies made the 16 after making significant progress in his recovery from a knee injury, Clarke was left out as on-loan Reading centre-back Sean Morrison made his Town debut alongside Jamie McCombe.
The manager said the former Southend man’s response was exactly what he wanted.
"Peter was very disappointed, but he was a man about the situation and he has real determination. That’s why he is the leader of the group.
"I spoke to Peter about my decision last Thursday. It’s never easy to drop any player, particularly when he’s the captain and someone you have huge respect for.
"He’ll come back and be the player we know he is."
Smithies, whose last competitive appearance was in the goalless home draw with Swindon on March 15, will take part in a development match against Blackburn tomorrow after being on the bench at Tranmere, where Ian Bennett remained a League I ever-present.
The boss explained: "Alex has made very good progress, and I wanted him to be involved and get back into the routine for the Tranmere game.
"I wanted him to be a part of the preparation and be in on the team meeting after he had been outstanding when working with (goalkeeping coach) John Vaughan in training all the previous week.
"It’s great to have him back and it’s like being given £5m to go out and buy the best young goalkeeper in the country, which is a terrific boost."