Debut duo impress Pompey boss

George Thorne in action against Leicester at Fratton Park. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
George Thorne in action against Leicester at Fratton Park. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Pompey boss praise for riding out defensive storm

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Michael Appleton praised the impact of his new boys after they made their Pompey bows.

And he tipped both Joe Mattock and George Thorne to go on to make a big impression at their new club following their loan arrivals.

Both players delivered steady performances on their debuts against Leicester City on Saturday.

Mattock showed his attacking intent from his left-back berth, while Thorne’s cool, calm presence on the ball and ability to play a forward-thinking pass was evident.

Appleton is certain both players will be big assets while they ply their trade at Pompey.

He said: ‘I think Joe gives us that bit of balance on the left side.

‘It looks as if that’s been missing for a long time.

‘It helps to have a left-sided player playing left-back.

‘I think he’s a little short on match fitness, so he’s only going to get stronger and fitter.

‘I thought young George was fantastic to be honest.

‘He brings composure to the middle of the park.

‘Every time he gets the ball he tries to play it forward instead of the safe option.

‘I know from experience West Brom have a fantastic player I want to keep around for as long as possible.

‘We almost stifled him in the first half but that was better in the second-half.

‘I said George brings composure but people wouldn’t have noticed how well he screens the back four as well.

‘The amount of times he intercepts it and keeps it simple is amazing.

‘He has ability on the ball. That’s why I brought him here.’

Appleton made his home bow as Pompey manager against Leicester, following his arrival as Steve Cotterill’s successor.

He was introduced to the fans before the game but chose to keep a low profile.

The 35-year-old admitted he enjoyed his first taste of his new club’s home as they got behind their team after the break.

Appleton said: ‘I enjoyed it. It was what I expected.

‘I’ve played here a couple of times as a player.

‘I thought the fans got behind the boys, second half especially.

‘There wasn’t much to shout about in the first half.

‘I think the boys rose to the occasion in the second half – and the fans did as well.’