Clarke-Harris, the 33-goal golden boot winner in League One last season, has started just 10 of Posh’s 18 Championship matches this season, scoring three goals, two of them penalties. Fitness issues hampered the 27 year-old at the start of the campaign and then he served a four-match suspension because of historical offensive social media posts.
Clarke-Harris was a surprising omission from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke when Posh failed to take advantage of their domination of possession. He had impressed against league leaders Fulham a week earlier.
And Ferguson gave nothing away when asked about his starting line-up for another tough away game at Blackburn Rovers tonight (November 24, 7.45pm).
“Johnno respected my decision on Saturday,” Ferguson stated. “And when he came on he looked a handful. His body fat and weight are down and he’s doing all he can to be in the team. If Johnno gets good service in the penalty area he’s a threat, but if you don’t give him that service you nullify that threat.
“He needs a run of games to get right up to speed, but I have to pick a side to suit each opponent and I felt we could hurt Stoke with runners in behind their defence and the forwards who did play (Siriki Dembele and Sammie Szmodics) did quite well.”
A second away win of the season would lift Posh out of the Championship relegation zone following Reading’s defeat at home to Sheffield United last night. Hull, who are above Posh on goal difference, are at Cardiff in a match between two in-form teams, while next-to-bottom Barnsley host Swansea in the first game of new manager Poya Asbaghi’s reign.
Posh defender Dan Butler could play his 100th game for Posh tonight, but million-pound summer signing is not expected to be involved after playing 70 minutes for the under 23 team yesterday.
“Blackburn are another very good Championship team with very good attacking players,” Ferguson added. “The threat of (top scorer) Brereton-Diaz is obvious, but they also have quality forward players in support which is something we need to concentrate on. We’ve done well against some top strikers this season though.
“Blackburn’s mentality is strong as they have showed since losing 7-0 at home to Fulham. That was a one-off, but we just have to make sure we turn a good performance into a good result. We need points far more than we need good performances.”
Teewnage Posh striker could have a run out in an under 23 game against Everton next week.
Summer signing Jack Marriott is due to have a scan on his injured hamstring today. Posh won’t be putting a timescale on his return. A return to action this season would be a bonus.