Christian Burgess on why Portsmouth defence was always going to take time to find consistency this season

Christian Burgess admits it was always going to take time for Pompey to find defensive consistency this season.

By Will Rooney
Saturday, 28th September 2019, 6:30 am
Christian Burgess in action for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Christian Burgess in action for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler

But the popular centre-back feels it’ll no longer be an issue once the Blues starting winning on a consistent basis.

The departures of Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson – to Brighton and Peterborough respectively – meant Pompey lost two mainstays from last season’s rearguard during the summer. 

Kenny Jackett recruited the likes of James Bolton, Paul Downing and Sean Raggett as replacements, but has struggled to settle on a back four.

Christian Burgess in action for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ahead of today’s League One game against Bolton, the boss has used five different players in central defence – and four at right-back.

The persistent reshuffling in defence has led to criticisms from some of the Fratton faithful during the stuttering start to the campaign.

Burgess, however, reckons Pompey’s poor form has ‘magnified’ how many times the rearguard has been switched.

And he insists the onus is on the defensive players to build the rapports required to ensure they're not leaking goals.

Paul Downing, left, and Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler

Burgess said: ‘It’s always nice if you have a settled back four.

‘We had a couple of new additions this summer after a couple of boys left and it was always going to take time to find consistency.

‘Some of the games haven’t gone for us and that’s magnified the issue, if you like.

‘Oli (Hawkins) came in and his injury doesn’t look great from Tuesday night against Southampton. 

Sean Raggett. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘That means another reshuffle but there’s plenty of experience back there, the boys have played a lot of games.

‘It’s our job to become accustomed with each other quickly and I don’t think that’s one of the major issues.

‘It definitely helps (if a centre-back pairing is settled) but give it time and we will find it.

‘It’s also about turning a corner, getting good results and gaining confidence.

‘Then I think no matter who plays there, it’ll give the team confidence and belief.’

Oli Hawkins operated in the heart of defence superbly in the 1-0 loss at Wycombe and was named man of the match.

He was performing just as impressively in the south-coast derby defeat to Southampton on Tuesday but suffered a foot injury which has sidelined him for up to six weeks.

That means Downing or Raggett could be given a sustained run in the starting XI.

Downing joined Pompey on a free transfer after being released by Blackburn, penning a three-year deal.

Jackett was a long-time admirer of the former MK Dons man and impressed how he performed on loan at Doncaster during the second half of last term.

He’s featured 10 times going into today’s meeting with Bolton.

Raggett, meanwhile, arrived on a season-long loan from Norwich.

Originally earmarked to be a regular starter, the ex-Lincoln City man has struggled at Fratton Park.

He sustained an elbow injury in pre-season, while breaking his ankle twice at Rotherham last season has meant the Blues are working on his running style.

Raggett’s made four outings ahead of the visit of the Trotters.

Burgess reckons both are good enough to take their chance.

He added: ‘Both of them are good players. They have good pedigree and experience and it’s always difficult –  especially when it’s unsettled, you’re in and out and it’s never great for confidence.

‘But we will need everybody this season I’m sure and once you get an opportunity you have to grab it. I’m sure that either one of them will.’