Appy to play it safe with midfield star

Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Lee Williamson will not be rushed back from injury.

And Michael Appleton will weigh up the best way to hurt Carlisle before making a decision on his replacement tomorrow.

Williamson faces a fortnight on the sidelines after limping off at Colchester with a hamstring injury.

That’s a blow with Appleton expecting big things from the 30-year-old this season.

But he will guard against him racing back too quickly.

The Blues boss said: ‘I think Willo is going to struggle a little bit for Carlisle.

‘He’s got a grade one tear so we’ll assess it.

‘We’re told it might be two weeks but you know what footballers are like these days, they have a quicker recovery time.

‘You don’t want to put them in a situation where they come back early and they are then out for six to eight weeks.

‘It’s important we look after his welfare because he could be a massively key player.

‘If it means him missing one game for having him for 40 then that’s what we’ll do.’

Liam Walker is most likely to replace Williamson in the centre at Brunton Park with Jordan Obita, Conor Clifford, Jack Compton and Kieran Djilali vying for the wide positions.

Appleton said: ‘With the wide players, I haven’t got wide left or wide right players. They are more wide midfield players.

‘I like chopping and changing and sometimes going with a player who gets at the full-back, or someone else who gives us width.

‘Sometimes I want a left-sided player on the right or right-sided player on the left, who comes in off the line.

‘We’ve got Jordan, who scored on Tuesday, Kieran and Conor Clifford who can play wide and give us some strength. We have options.’