LEE CLARK is prepared to play the waiting game over Martin Kelly.
Town’s boss is keen to renew the Liverpool left-back’s loan – this time for an entire season.
But he has warned Town fans not to expect any immediate developments over the 19-year-old, who played the final seven matches of the League I campaign.
Kelly, forced off early in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient because of a back niggle, has now returned to Anfield.
“He’s a Liverpool player, and their season is still on-going,” explained Clark of the defender, who has made one Reds appearance, in this season’s Champions League tie against PSV in Eindhoven.
“I’ve gone on record several times over how highly I rate Martin, and we’d certainly like to bring him back here, on a season-long loan if possible.
“But it’s unlikely Liverpool will make any decisions until their season is over, and it would be unfair to expect them to.
“There is also the Champions League factor, in that their squad for that competition has to have a certain number of homegrown players.
“We’re prepared to be patient, and we’re hoping Rafa Benitez will be more than happy at the way we’ve handled Martin being here.
“We’ve certainly enjoyed having him, and I think it’s clear he has a very bright future in the game.”
Kelly, whose back problem is expected to clear up quickly, made his Town debut as a left-back in the 3-2 win at Bristol Rovers.
He played in the same position when Southend won 1-0 at the Galpharm the game after, which was Town’s only defeat during his spell in the side.
His other five outings were all at right-back, and the England Under 19 cap can also play in the centre of defence.
Kelly’s Town stint also brought his first career goal – the winner in the 3-2 victory at Walsall.
Kelly was one of four players brought in on loan by Town this season, the others being strikers Lukas Jutkiewicz (Everton), Liam Dickinson (Derby) and Steve Jones (Burnley).