Defender earmarked for Pompey training role

Ricardo Rocha in action for Pompey last season. Picture: Sarah Standing (13225-3901)
Ricardo Rocha in action for Pompey last season. Picture: Sarah Standing (13225-3901)
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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Guy Whittingham had just the one stipulation when agreeing to Ricardo Rocha’s request to train with Pompey.

That was to help educate and coach the young central defenders at the club.

And the Blues boss believes the experience the 35-year-old can offer his squad can be priceless.

Rocha is back at Fratton Park for at least six weeks ahead of an expected job opportunity abroad.

He will spend that time training with Pompey, as well as passing on his knowledge to players on the training pitch in a bid to help develop their game.

A playing return has been ruled out – but Whittingham is excited about what Rocha can bring to the games of others.

He said: ‘When I was working for the PFA, I worked with Martin Keown and was helping him through his Uefa A licence.

‘He said when he went back into Arsenal, Arsene Wenger asked him to play alongside his centre-halves and pass on his experience as he was playing – and we will do that with Ric.

‘He started yesterday and is a really approachable guy.

‘Most of the lads didn’t know him from last season, but when they do they will realise they can go up and ask him things.

‘He has played at the highest level and played with us in three divisions, so has good experience at different levels and can talk to other centre-halves.

‘He contacted me a couple of weeks ago and was thinking about coming back in.

‘I went out for a coffee with him, had a chat and he said the idea about what he wants to do and could he train with us.

‘I said he could on one condition – that he helps pass on his experience to the other centre-halves.

‘We have young centre-halves here.

‘And, we think, young, promising ones.

‘I’m not on about just Sonny (Bradley) and Bondz (N’Gala), I’m on about Jack Whatmough and Adam Webster when he comes back. There are a few here.

‘And in terms of coaching experience, I don’t think it can harm him down the line.’

Rocha made 97 appearances for the Blues, playing in three divisions.