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Clemence steps up

English Barclays Premiership

George Graham has always insisted that an injury gives another player the chance to stake his first-team claim. Step up Stephen Clemence.

The young midfielder was introduced to the action against Everton at White Hart Lane on Tuesday after Darren Anderton limped off with a groin problem.

Clemence wasted no time in making an impression. Playing in an unfamiliar wide role in midfield - he prefers it centrally - the 22-year-old created all three goals as we came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

"It was my first game of the season and I felt I played quite a good part," said Clemence. "My left foot was working well, I was involved in all three goals and worked hard although I was a bit tired at the end.

"It was unfortunate for Darren Anderton. He's a quality player and he's had a lot of problems in the past with injuries so I hope this one isn't too serious.

"I'm not saying I've staked my claim either. Every chance I get I will try and take it and hopefully things will keep going well."

Clemence is without doubt one of the most improved performers at the Lane since making his debut as a raw 19-year-old against Manchester United back in August 1997. His appearances have gradually increased in the three seasons he's been in the squad and he has impressed with his mixture of ability and commitment.

He added: "Last season I had a few good games against a lot of great players and that has given me confidence. I just want to take it on from there now and play more of a part every season."

He is certainly favourite to fill the gap left by Anderton for the visit of West Ham on Monday and his manager is looking for him to string good performances together.

Graham said: "Stephen's just got to make sure now, if he gets the opportunity, to do it over a few games rather than just isolated games. I thought he did very well against Everton. The boy has a good attitude and his work rate is excellent. I'm looking for him now to step up and get a number of games under his belt at a certain level."