Arsenal loan centre-back Harry Clarke missed out on Oldham Athletic’s defeat to Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday due to a limit on loanees.

Harry Clarke celebrates his winner against Cheltenham (Photo via Clarke on Twitter)
Harry Clarke celebrates his winner against Cheltenham (Photo via Clarke on Twitter)

When Oldham Athletic named their team to face Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night, Harry Clarke was a surprise absentee. Clarke had started their last 12 league games and there were no reports of an injury problem ahead of the match.

Contrary to some of the fan theories on Twitter, Clarke also wasn’t suspended. Though he did recently pick up his fifth yellow card of the season, that was after the suspension deadline. He already featured in another match after the fifth yellow anyway.

So, why didn’t he feature? It comes down to the EFL rules on loanees. Though you can sign more than five loanees if you want, you can only name five at a time in your matchday squad.

On Tuesday, Oldham boss Harry Kewell decided to have Ian Lawlor, Marcel Hilssner, Alfie McCalmont, and Bobby Grant in his starting lineup, with Serhat Tasdemir on the bench.

That meant he couldn’t include any more loanees, which led to the exclusion of Clarke and Ben Garrity.

The good news for Arsenal fans is that excluding Clarke proved disastrous for Oldham defensively. They let in four goals for the first league game all season in a 4-3 defeat. You’d expect Kewell to pick someone else to leave out next time.

Clarke initially joined Oldham Athletic on loan until January, but he extended his deal to the end of the season in the winter window. For the most part, things have gone well, so hopefully he was only selected for exclusion on Tuesday to give him a break.