Young talent Courtney Clarke made his third appearance for Derby County U18s this weekend following previous spells at West Ham United and Leicester City.

The 17-year-old midfielder attracted interest playing senior football at non-league level.

According to the Telegraph, West Ham United and Manchester City were among the clubs tracking him and sent scouts to watch him in action for Whyteleafe FC in Croydon.

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The Telegraph liken him to a ‘Patrick Vieira’ box-to-box midfielder. Some praise.

Whyteleafe FC feature in the Isthmian League South East division, which is in the eighth tier of English football.

Aside from West Ham and City, fellow southern clubs Brighton and Hove Albion, Millwall and Charlton Athletic were also said to be keen before he joined the Hammers.

Clarke featured for West Ham’s U18s in a game against Fulham in September last year. He later had a trial at Leicester, playing in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur U18s.

But earlier this month he joined Derby and has started games with the U18s.

Clarke made his debut for the Rams youth team in the 2-1 win over Burnley on February 13 and has since followed that up with starts against Sunderland and Wolves.

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Plenty of talent have come through non-league such as Chris Smalling, Michail Antonio, Charlie Austin and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy have shown in recent times.

Derby, meanwhile, boast one of the best academies in England right now with Max Bird, Louie Sibley, Jason Knight and Lee Buchanan all in or around the first team.

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