Leon Clarke urged to end loan spell at Scunthorpe United by hitting the back of the net
BOSS Brian Laws today called on Leon Clarke to end his stint at Scunthorpe United in the sort of fashion he has become accustomed to at Glanford Park – by scoring goals.
Saturday's game against Bournemouth is the final game of the striker's three-month loan spell with the Iron, a period which has inflated his own profile and kept United within touching distance of climbing out of the bottom four.
He has struck an incredible 11 goals in 15 games, a prolific return which sees Clarke joint-top of the division's scoring charts.
And Laws is backing the 27-year-old to bring the curtain down on his vital contribution in the exact same fashion it started against Sheffield United in September, with Clarke getting on the scoresheet.
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"It would be great for Leon to get a goal in his last game," said the Iron boss.
"I know he'll want to finish on a high – because he won't be getting any more games now until January.
"He wants to finish as high up the goalscoring charts as he possibly can.
"I think we're in for a good time with Leon on Saturday.
"I believe he'll be in the right frame of mind and hopefully we'll hold on to his shirt tail and he'll drag us over the line."
Although there was never going to be a good time to lose the services of their top scorer, the return of Clarke – who has only failed to notch in five of his 15 Scunthorpe games – to Charlton this weekend is particularly frustrating.
That's because his farewell game against the Cherries kickstarts a period which so often proves to be season-defining in their boss's eyes.
After hosting Bournemouth, United travel to mid-table Leyton Orient before hosting fellow strugglers Carlisle United the weekend before Christmas.
Their following two games are away at sides in the top four of League One – Sheffield United and Tranmere Rovers – but Laws says he is determined his side will have climbed out of the bottom four by the time the clock ticks into 2013.
"Christmas periods sometimes dictate how your season is going to pan out," he told the Telegraph.
"We know why we're where we are – the table doesn't lie, we haven't won enough games.
"Christmas period throws up game after game where you can either get out of trouble or be dragged right into the mix of things.
"We've got to make sure we get out of trouble and that come January we're out of the bottom four.
"The players believe they can do that and so do I. It's about making sure everybody else believes we can.
"We had a real uplift over the last few weeks and I don't want the second half against Doncaster (a 4-0 defeat just under a fortnight ago) to dismantle that because we do need the supporters to be on our side.
"As long as I've got the players showing honesty and hard work, I believe the supporters will stick with us."