Defender eyes Pompey left-back breakthrough

Brandon Haunstrup in action for the reserves against Everton last season Picture: Colin Farmery
Brandon Haunstrup in action for the reserves against Everton last season Picture: Colin Farmery
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Brandon Haunstrup is targeting Pompey’s vacant left-back spot after committing his future.

The 20-year-old yesterday agreed a one-year deal with a club-held option for an additional 12 months.

Now Enda has left and that can only help me, particularly being the only left-back at the club at present

Brandon Haunstrup

For the youngster from Waterlooville, it continues a long association with Fratton Park, which began as a seven-year-old.

Such has been the magnificent Enda Stevens’ dominance at left-back, Haunstrup has long found himself up against an immovable force in his first-team bid.

Now Stevens has embarked on a fresh challenge at Sheffield United, while there is also a new man at the Pompey helm in Kenny Jackett.

Certainly, it is all change at Fratton Park, with a clean slate for those players still on the League Two title-winners’ books.

And there’s a prized opportunity for the ex-Crookhorn College pupil to push his claims to be more regularly involved.

Haunstrup said: ‘There’s a new manager and every player will go back for pre-season knowing there are places up for grabs.

‘It gives everyone a clean slate. It doesn’t matter if they have been playing or not, no-one is guaranteed a position because there is now a different manager in place.

‘Paul Cook liked Enda and quite right, he was one of the best players in League One and League Two – perhaps even higher than that

‘Obviously, it made it tough for me, especially being a young left-back. He was very hard to dislodge – but deserved to stay there because he was so good.

‘Mind you, I would rather play my way through into the starting line-up rather than someone getting injured to give me an opportunity.

‘Now Enda has left and that can only help me, particularly being the only left-back at the club at present.

‘You would imagine somebody else will come in for that position, but I am ready for the challenge, definitely.

‘It’s about hitting the off-season hard, then going into pre-season and trying to make a favourable first impression.

‘My aim for the season is to hopefully cement that first-team spot.’

Haunstrup has made six Pompey appearances since granted his debut in the Capital One Cup against Derby in August 2015.

Yet last term he was handed just the one Checkatrade Trophy outing, although had three matches on loan at Sutton.

He added: ‘It comes into your head about leaving, I am now at the age where I need to be playing.

‘Whether that is dropping down a league to get a regular first-team spot, you need to play.

‘I was on loan at Sutton for a month and their manager pulled me aside and said he wanted to take me until the end of the season.

‘However, the doctor had told me I couldn’t play on their Astroturf after straining my hip flexor. It was something I felt the first time I played there.

‘Most of the time, though, Paul Cook told me he didn’t want to risk me going out on loan as I was needed as cover for Enda. Instead I had to get games with the reserves to keep me match fit if needed.’