Midfielder backed to replace Brown loss

David Nugent, right, lends a hand to Jonathan Hogg against Derby
David Nugent, right, lends a hand to Jonathan Hogg against Derby
Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler

Close is free from injury and full of Pompey ambition

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Jonathan Hogg is the man to finally fill Michael Brown’s midfield boots.

That is the verdict of team-mate David Nugent, who believes Pompey have badly missed the presence of the veteran scrapper.

And he is convinced Hogg is the man to change all that.

Brown last played on Boxing Day in a 1-1 Fratton Park draw with Millwall.

An on-going contract dispute has ensured the 34-year-old hasn’t appeared for the Blues since, although he continues to train with the club.

During that time, Steve Cotterill’s men have failed to win in nine games, losing six of them.

Now Hogg has arrived on loan from Aston Villa in an attempt to replace that Brown bite.

And, after three matches alongside the youngster, Nugent is adamant Pompey have found the perfect replacement.

He said: ‘Hoggy is a quality little player.

‘He’s ferocious, loves a tackle and is a great midfielder.

‘He’s got the legs and runs his socks off in the middle of the park.

‘He also showed in the second half against Derby that when he gets on the ball he can find a pass.

‘We need someone like that in there who is a ball player, like a little Brownie.

‘We miss Brownie, he was quality. A little rat in midfield who harries other midfielders, puts them under pressure and gets the ball back.

‘Hoggy is doing the same thing for us.

‘He’s got no fear. You put anything in front of him and he’ll tackle them. I wouldn’t like to be in a tackle with him, put it that way.’

Pompey beat off the likes of Leeds, Sheffield United and Watford to bring the 22-year-old Hogg to Fratton Park last month.

Having signed a new two-and-a-half year deal with Villa in December, Hogg’s stay will not be a permanent one.

Regardless, he is here until the end of the season.

And Nugent believes the Middlesbrough-born midfielder can have a massive influence on the remainder of the campaign.

He added: ‘Hoggy has looked good in training and taken it on to the pitch as well.

‘He’s got great potential. When he goes back to Villa, I’m sure he will start a few games in the Premier League again.

‘He is definitely going to be a key performer.

‘If he can play like that in the second half of the season and win the ball like he does and starts passing like he does, then he will be a great player in midfield.

‘Against Derby, as a team it was a tale of two halves and in the second half the ball held up a little and Hoggy looked a really good player.’