According to Sky Sports, Derby County are closing in on a deal with Matt Clarke which will see the Brighton and Hove Albion defender return for a second loan spell.

Clarke spent last season on loan at Pride Park after originally joining Brighton from Portsmouth.

The 23-year-old was a big hit at Derby, making 37 Championship appearances and winning the club’s Fans’ Player of the Year award.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images).

Derby have made no secret of their wishes to re-sign the player on loan.

And the latest report from Sky Sports claims a deal is close. Talks are said to be ongoing while Brighton boss Graham Potter is happy for Clarke to go.

The Seagulls are overloaded with central defenders right now.

Adam Webster, Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk have been joined by new signing Joel Veltman while Ben White returned to Brighton following his loan spell at Leeds United.

Clarke, despite his talent, would currently only be sixth or seventh choice at Brighton.

A return to Derby makes sense. Manager Phillip Cocu plays a similar brand of football to Potter, and Clarke will only improve further from another spell in the Championship.

The Rams, meanwhile, will be desperate for Clarke to return to bolster their options.

(Photo by William Early/Getty Images).

Derby have welcomed Mike te Wierek following the Dutchman’s pre-arranged arrival from Groningen. But beyond him and Andre Wisdom, Phillip Cocu’s side are light on natural options.

Curtis Davies is in the final year of his contract. Craig Forsyth and George Evans, on the other hand, are both makeshift central defenders available as last resort.

Also see: Report: Derby keen on 6ft 2inch striker, one year after he rejected Rams move

Also see: ‘I’m not sure’: Rival manager responds to reports he could sign Derby County player

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