Matt Clarke has told Albion fans he loves to defend.

The centre-back brought in from Portsmouth has been challenged to compete with Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk for a place.

Clarke, 22, has signed a four-year deal and comes from the League One club for an initial fee of about £3.5 million.

He joins Duffy, Dunk, Dan Burn and Leon Balogun as centre-backs on the Albion staff.

It is thought his arrival could allow Balogun, who hopes to play in the Africa Cup of Nations today, to move and seek more game time.

Clarke becomes the first signing under head coach Graham Potter, who watched him when he was in charge at Swansea.

The former Ipswich youngster said: “I’m a wholehearted player who loves defending. I love making tackles and blocks and winning headers, as any defender does.

“Hopefully aside from that I’d like to think I have a little bit of quality on the ball as well, but my main responsibility first and foremost is to defend.

“For me it’s all about getting into pre-season with the rest of the squad now and hitting the ground running. I just can’t wait to get going.”

Albion are well-stocked in central defence and youngsters Ben White and Leo Ostigard could go out on loan.

Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr has expressed concern over Balogun’s lack of game time in the Premier League.

Balogun appears to be competing with Chelsea’s Kenneth Omeruo, who has been impressing on loan to Leganes, to partner William Ekong of Udinese in the centre of defence in their AFCON opener against Burundi today.