Tough guy Pearce backed to keep on fighting

Jason Pearce. Picture: Barry Zee

Jason Pearce. Picture: Barry Zee

Portsmouth Beach Soccer Club

‘Handball worse than Maradona’s goal’ can’t take shine off Portsmouth progress

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Rugged, uncompromising, robust, fearless and valiant.

Tuesday night provided a long-awaited glimpse into the footballing make-up of Jason Pearce.

What’s more, Steve Cotterill believes Pompey fans should start getting used to such no-nonsense displays.

The 23-year-old made an immediate impact after being thrown in for his Blues debut against Reading.

Featuring at Championship level for the very first time, Pearce conjured up an outstanding performance at the heart of the defence.

His full-blooded and bruising approach established him as an instant favourite among the Fratton faithful.

Not even Noel Hunt’s flying elbow could knock him out of his stride.

After being forced to wait for Pearce to serve a three-match ban, Tuesday’s unveiling was the opportunity Cotterill had been longing for.

He, along with the Pompey fans, was certainly not disappointed.

It was a stock display from a player tipped by many as a future Blues captain.

And Cotterill is anticipating his summer recruit to continue battering opposing strikers into submission.

He said: ‘Pearcey was excellent against Reading.

‘He will be like that all the time. That will be him, that’s what he is.

‘What you see is what you get – he’s a tough nut.

‘Pearcey gets what he deserves in life and hopefully he deserves to play at this level for a long time and maybe even higher.

‘He’s a great lad, a leader of men and I thought he was superb in there.

‘There aren’t many young left-footed central defenders around.

‘If you can get a tough one, which he is, then all the better.

‘The things I am doing now, ideally I would have liked to have done on July 1 when everyone was back and do it in pre-season.

‘But Pearcey’s ban meant there was no point in me looking at him in any other partnership in pre-season so it became a little bit more difficult.

‘To have to throw him in at the deep end doesn’t prove me right, it’s more giving him credit I think.’

A major defensive reshuffle was required in order to accommodate Pearce in his natural position at centre-half against Reading.

Aaron Mokoena moved to right-back, while Tal Ben Haim switched over to left-back.

The result of that was the omission of Hermann Hreidarsson – not just from the team but the squad.

Both he and fellow veteran Christian Dailly failed to make Cotterill’s final 16 for the occasion, with neither being injured.

Instead, Ricardo Rocha, Joel Ward, Ryan Williams and Benjani Mwaruwari were the outfield substitutes.

For Hreidarsson, it ended a run of 21 consecutive league matches in Cotterill’s side.

And the Blues boss admitted it had been a tough decision to leave the experienced duo out of his squad.

He added: ‘What I would say is the rules now make it a lot more difficult to not include players.

‘This new five substitute rule makes it very tough.

‘Leaving excellent professionals like Hermann and Christian out of the squad completely was probably more difficult than picking Jason.

‘They are all part of it here, though.

‘They were equally as good on Tuesday night behind the scenes.’

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