READING FC boss Paul Clement is eyeing up a move for highly-rated Portsmouth defender Matt Clarke.

The 21-year-old centre-back has shown rapid improvement with Pompey and was named their player of the year last season.

Clement is eager to shore up his defence during the summer transfer window and could make a swoop for the defender.

But Royals will have to beat off competition from a number of clubs including Premier League Brighton and Wolves and Championship rivals Bristol City.

Suffolk-born Clarke came through the Ipswich Town youth ranks and made four first-team appearances under former boss Mick McCarthy before a loan move to Portsmouth for the 2015-16 season.

Clarke played 29 games and scored once during that campaign before he signed a permanent three-year contract at Fratton Park in July 2016 in a deal that saw Adam Webster move the other way.

He quickly established himself as a regular in the Pompey side that won the 2016-17 League Two title and he made 42 appearances in League One last season to win their player of the year award.

However, Royals may have to splash the cash to win the race for Clarke’s signature after he penned a fresh three-year deal in February this year.

It is though Pompey boss Kenny Jackett will also do everything in his power to keep Clarke at Fratton Park and is ready to fight off Reading’s advances.

Meanwhile, Royals are also being a linked with Czech Republic striker, Michael Krmencik.

Unconfirmed reports say Clement watched the 25-year-old in action for Viktoria Plzen last weekend.

Krmencik has scored seven times in 13 international appearances and was linked with Newcastle United in January.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading manager, Paul Clement.

Clement wasted little time in making his first permanent signing as Reading manager last week with the capture of 26-year-old free agent Andy Yiadom from Barnsley.

Yiadom’s former Tykes team-mate, Adam Hammill, is another player believed to be on Clement’s radar.

The 30-year-old winger has been told he can leave Oakwell at the end of June when his contract expires.

Clement is also said to be tracking free agent David Meyler.

The 28-year-old Republic of Ireland international is looking for a new club after leaving Hull City after five-and-a-half years.

Peterborough midfielder Marcus Maddison, 24, could be another option for Royals.

League One Posh recently confirmed Reading’s interest, through they insist no bid has been received for the former Newcastle United trainee.

Reading Chronicle:

Andy Yiadom became Paul Clement's first summer signing last week.

Meanwhile, Clement is eager to turn Tommy Elphick’s loan move from Aston Villa into a permanent deal this summer.

Villa – who take on Fulham in this Saturday’s Championship play-off final – are keen to off-loan the 30-year-old defender, who spend an injury-ravaged loan spell with Royals last season, making just four appearances.

However, Royals are unlikely to try and re-sign Derby County striker Chris Martin.

The 29-year-old scored just once in 10 loan appearances in Berkshire last season, with new QPR boss, Steve McClaren, said to be leading the chase.