Scunthorpe United will have to be on their guard to stop Coventry City and Leon Clarke, says boss Brian Laws
CLIFF Byrne and Matt Sparrow have done it, and few would bet against Leon Clarke making it a hat-trick.
Scunthorpe United boss Brian Laws concedes there is every chance the latter will continue a prolific season by adding his name to the list of players to find the net against their old club at Glanford Park.
But if, as with Byrne and Sparrow before him, Clarke fails to come away with three points as well as a goal on Saturday, Laws will have no complaints.
The manager says no special measures will be taken to stop the Coventry City striker, who has scored nine times for the Sky Blues to add to the 11 he notched while on loan with the Iron earlier in the season.
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He admits though, United will need to be on top form to ensure they claim a second successive home win.
“Everybody says he (Clarke) will be looking to come back here and score goals, and a lot of ex-players have a habit of doing that,” said Laws.
“What will be, will be in the game. As long as we score one more than them, I don’t care.
“Sparrow scored but he was on the losing side. I don’t mind if Clarke scores as long as he’s on the losing side.
“Clarkie had a phenomenal period here, scoring a lot of goals.
“I know he appreciates the support he had here. And without his goals, where would we be? Great credit to him.
“At the end of the day, he’s their striker and whilst there is a connection between both clubs and the fact he played extremely well for us, he’s a goalscorer and in this division he’s a threat.
“It doesn’t really make any difference, we know we’re up against a really good striker.
“We’ve got to be prepared for him.
“There will be no exceptions taken, or there certainly won’t be anything in our game play to try to stop it.
“What we’ll try to do is play him as well as we can, but we’ll have to be really at the top of our game to stop him.”
It was a brace from Clarke which earned Scunthorpe a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture at the Ricoh Arena back in November.
Both teams struggled at the start of the season, but Coventry managed a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions after that defeat.
They have since climbed up to ninth in the table, retaining hopes of sneaking into the play-off spots, while United are still fighting to avoid relegation.
For City, much has changed since the last meeting, with changes to their squad and management as Steven Pressley prepares to take on the top job following Mark Robins’ departure last month.
“The last time we played them, yes, we did beat them, but then they went on a fantastic run after that,” recalled Laws.
“I hope it could be the same again.
“But I look at the team we played last time and what it is now, I think there’s been about seven or eight changes in that team.
“That tells you they’ve made a lot of signings or have certainly got the ability to change.
“They’ll be buoyant because they’re in good form.
“Even though the manager’s gone, they’ve still got the capability.
“They’ll be disappointed they lost the Swindon game (a 2-1 defeat last Saturday) and will be smarting from it, so we’ve got to be very careful.
“We know only too well that Leon Clarke has the potential to score goals.
“The players know him as well as anybody else and they’ll be very wary of his attributes, but it may help us because they know what he’s about.
“We’re going to have to be on our guard, but we’ve also got to be mindful that we’ve won four of our last five games at home.
“We shouldn’t fear anybody."