Centre-back injury woes hit Pompey at key time

Adam Barton. Picture: Joe Pepler
Adam Barton. Picture: Joe Pepler
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis in pre-season action against Bournemouth Picture: Shaun Boggust

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POMPEY have been plunged into a central defensive crisis as they seek to confirm their play-off presence.

Christian Burgess and Adam Webster (both ankle) are doubts for Saturday’s visit of eighth-placed Wycombe.

That leaves Matt Clarke in likely need of a partner at the heart of Paul Cook’s back four after successive League Two defeats.

Midfielder Adam Barton would be a consideration and came off the bench for Webster in the 45th minute of the York defeat.

He has stood-in at centre half twice so far during the campaign, having never before played the role.

However, Barton is substantially short of match practice having fallen out-of-favour recently.

Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss represented only his second appearance since January 23, the other also arriving off the bench.

The former Coventry player didn’t even make the match-day 18 for the previous three fixtures, yet now could be pressed into starting action.

Another alternative could be Jack Whatmough, yet he too has suffered from a lack of first-team opportunities.

He has still to return to the first-team squad since damaging knee ligaments against Cheltenham in March 2015.

Before Christmas, the youngster made six appearances during a loan spell with Havant & Waterlooville.

However, having been recalled early from his time at Westleigh Park, he has not played competitively since February 9 during a 3-1 Hawks defeat to Gosport.

Although Whatmough did feature for 90 minutes in Ian Foster’s reserve side last month during a 3-2 victory over Crawley.

That represented a first appearance in Pompey colours since suffering his knee injury almost a year to the day earlier.

The 19-year-old, who has played for the club 36 times, continues to train with Cook’s side and the manager has often praised his attitude.

- NEIL ALLEN