Pompey boss refuses to hurry Rocha decision

Ricardo Rocha. Picture: Steve Reid (123811-771)
Ricardo Rocha. Picture: Steve Reid (123811-771)
From left to right: James Pollock, Mark Catlin, Kenny Jackett, Steve McLenaghan, Mark Kelly and Cllr Ken Ellcome. Picture: Steve Hill

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Guy Whittingham has pledged not to rush Ricardo Rocha into clarifying his Pompey future.

And he insists the door also remains open for a possible Fratton Park return for Sam Sodje.

Blues fans are still waiting to discover whether the ever-popular Rocha will be back at the club for next season.

Likewise, Whittingham is being patient having sounded out the 34-year-old about staying.

Rocha does not yet want to retire and has long been linked with a switch to America, while China is another option.

Yet Pompey’s boss insists the former Spurs man is still mulling over the next step in his career.

In the meantime, Whittingham has moved to recruit central defenders Sonny Bradley and Joe Devera.

The possibility of Rocha also signing appears remote.

But a relaxed Whittingham will not put a deadline on a decision.

He said: ‘We would love Ric to stay.

‘But he has footballing issues he has to sort out first.

‘I cannot say what they are, they are not major issues.

‘Ric has got his own take on where we are and what he wants to do, so we will leave it at that.

‘He has got to sort out what he wants for himself and the ball is very much in his court.

‘I don’t want to give Ric a deadline because he is a great guy and I don’t want to put him under pressure.

‘If he wants to stay here fantastic, we would love him to stay.

‘If he doesn’t then I’m not going to put any pressure on him to change his mind.

‘I don’t need to know his decision at the moment.

‘I think Ric understands we are getting on with our business like we need to and I think I am a good enough friend with Ric for him to realise we have both got to do that.

‘We haven’t actually put an offer to him but he knows we would love to keep him here.’

Sodje is also a possibility, although Whittingham will not sign both him and Rocha.

The 34-year-old impressed at the end of last season, making nine appearances, and has plenty of experience in the lower leagues.

His Pompey future, though, remains on the backburner.

He added: ‘It is probably one or the other for that spot.

‘We have talked to Sam, it hasn’t gone any further yet but he is still there.

‘Obviously we don’t want to stand in his way if something else happens.

‘I think Sam would be happy to stay and we would be happy for him to stay but there are other things going on that we cannot quite commit to just yet.

‘There have been offers for him from other clubs as far as I know.

‘Sam played well for us at the end of the season so he might have other options.

‘If he does that would be great for him. Hopefully we can do something later.’