For the time being, Jack Clarke believes he has earned the status of Sunderland’s designated penalty taker.
Sunderland lost their two major takers from last season over the summer, with Amad returning to Manchester United and Ross Stewart joining Southampton.
This left a hole in the team, and Clarke said in an interview with Sky Sports reminiscing on his Championship Player of the Month award that no replacement was initially selected.
Instead, it was up to the person who won the penalty to determine whether or not to take it.
Clarke converted both of his first two penalties of the season, against Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers.
Clarke stepped in and converted again when Mason Burstow was fouled in the area against Sheffield Wednesday, convincing Tony Mowbray to hand him the duty for the foreseeable future.
Clarke has risen to near the top of the division’s highest scorers list as a result of his duties.
“I never really had my eye on penalties, but we made a rule at the start of the season that whoever wins it can take it,” he told Sky Sports at the time.
“I won the first one and scored against Preston.” I then did the same thing to Blackburn. Because I haven’t missed one yet, the gaffer says I can keep taking them.
“I always stay out after practice to practice, and the day before a game, I try to simulate what it’s like to take one.” But there’s a big line of people waiting to take them off me!”
Clarke is swiftly developing, but he admits that he is still watching several of the finest in his position in order to improve even more.
“I love watching Jack Grealish, Heung-min Son and some of the other big names in my position,” he told reporters.
“I like to see their strengths and if you can replicate what they do in your game.” Then, if you can’t do it as well as they can, consider why. Then you go out and practice until you can do it. That’s how I attempt to improve, and it can only help you get better.”