Boss backs forgotten man

Tom Craddock
Tom Craddock
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Picture gallery: Pompey 1 Walsall 1

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Pompey boss Guy Whittingham prepared to unleash fit again Tom Craddock and vowed: It’s like having a new signing.

The Blues manager has dismissed any suggestion the hitman is injury prone after a stalled start to his Blues career.

Whittingham is weighing up giving the 27-year-old some pitch time as his team go to Newport County in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area quarter-finals tonight.

Craddock has not made a start since August 6, while an 11-minute cameo against Fleetwood in September was his most recent showing.

Whittingham feels he can invigorate Pompey’s attacking options, though.

He said: ‘Tom is close to an outing.

‘If things had gone differently, he would have come on at Stevenage.

‘I have faith in him and so do the players.

‘They are saying there is someone in their squad who can score goals who no-one has seen just yet. That’s important.

‘It hasn’t happened for Tom. He knows he will score goals for us, though.

‘He has scored goals all through his career at this level.

‘So I’m confident he will score goals for us. He’ll do that. When he does get started, he’ll be like a new signing.’

It’s been a frustrating succession of injuries which has kept Craddock sidelined.

The latest of them has been a knee issue.

But Whittingham feels he is not a player who will face constant issues.

He said: ‘He hasn’t (been injury prone).

‘He has scored goals and made appearances at this level through his career.

‘You can see he’s not had a lot of injuries which have blighted him.

‘We don’t want him to come back and then be out for another two weeks with something else.

‘We want him to come back risk free, or as risk free as you can be being a professional footballer.

‘It’s a fact of life that you pick up injuries being a professional footballer.

‘It’s been different things with him. The latest one has been his knee.

‘He had bone bruising and it hadn’t cleared up properly.’

Pompey fans have not seen much of Craddock yet, but Whittingham has been impressed by the attitude shown by the striker since he arrived from Oxford.

‘He’s a good lad and a Middlesbrough boy, a hard worker,’ said Whittingham.

‘Tom doesn’t shirk responsibility and is up for it.

‘He knows he hasn’t got going yet. I can relate to it as a player.

‘When something doesn’t go right for you it becomes frustrating – especially when you go to a new club.

‘All you want to do is show people what you can do, and he hasn’t had that opportunity – yet.

‘But, rest assured, I have faith in his ability.’