Matt Clarke says he’s excited about the prospect of playing under Phillip Cocu after joining Derby County on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 22-year-old central defender will spend the 2019/20 campaign with the Rams after penning a season-long loan switch from the Premier League side.
Clarke, who joined Brighton earlier this summer from Portsmouth, is relishing the prospect of improving as a player under the Derby boss.
Cocu, who was appointed as the Rams’ new manager last month, enjoyed success in his playing career at the highest level for both club and country.
The Dutchman has already earned an impressive reputation as a manager following a successful period at PSV Eindhoven which saw him guide them to three titles in five seasons.
Clarke told RamsTV: “I heard about the interest from Derby over the last few days and it’s happened fairly quickly.
“It was a long day yesterday to come up, after training with Brighton in the morning and then getting up to Derby to get everything sorted, but I’m happy to be here.
“I moved to Brighton earlier this summer and after a fairly settled period at Portsmouth I’ve had two moves in quick succession, but that’s how football works.
“I am certainly looking forward to working under the manager here and people like that you have to have massive respect for.
“Coming in the building to sign, you can see just how highly regarded he is. I’m excited to play for him and I know I need to come in, work hard and buy into the manager’s methods as I look to try and get into the team.”
Clarke impressed in League One with Portsmouth over the last two seasons and was the Pompey fans’ Player of the Year for the last two campaigns.
Now, though, he is looking forward to testing himself at Championship level.
Describing himself as a player, he said: “I’m a centre-back and first and foremost I like to defend.
“I love to tackle and win my headers, but hopefully I’ve got a bit more as well!
“I think I am capable of playing a bit, helping to build things up from the back, but also I know there’s a time and a place when to head it and kick it too.
“I think you have to be capable of doing a bit of both.”
Derby’s 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship kicks off next Monday evening with a trip to Huddersfield Town.
Clarke, having enjoyed a full pre-season at Brighton and got plenty of game time under his belt, says he’s raring to go.
He is due to train with his new team-mates for the first time over the coming days ahead of the trip to West Yorkshire.
He said: “I’m looking forward to getting straight into it.
“In many respects that what you want and to be honest if I had signed today and we were playing on Saturday, it probably would’ve come around too soon.
“With pre-season over everyone is always looking forward to the season starting for real.
“I’ve had a full pre-season myself and ideally you’d like to be with the team you’re playing for a little bit earlier, but it is what it is.
“I’ve played a few games and got some 90 minutes under my belt, so I am ready and raring to go.”