Appleton backs Mattock resurgence to continue
Joe Mattock's rise and rise has been backed to continue gathering pace as Michael Appleton toasts his Pompey return.
Fratton Park has become the setting for the 21-year-old to rebuild his once highly-promising career.
The former England under-21 left-back has stagnated at West Bromwich Albion during the last two seasons.
Yet Pompey have provided him with the opportunity to shine once again.
Following an impressive initial seven-match emergency loan, Mattock is expected back at the club tomorrow for the remainder of the season.
Fans have steadily seen his level of performance increase during that period, culminating in his best display yet against Watford.
It was a swashbuckling showing down the left flank which couldn’t help but catch the eye.
Mattock can expect to resume his full-back role for the visit of West Ham on Saturday.
And Appleton is relishing having him back in his side.
He said: ‘Watford was a little bit of an indication and hopefully we can see the best of Joe Mattock.
‘The boy is only 21, he has been playing since he was 16, a lot of people forget that.
‘He has got about another eight years before he can hit his peak.
‘Joe has done well and I think was getting better and better as the games went on before he went back to West Brom.
‘He has settled down here and is at an age where there are a few of the lads in the squad that can relate to him.
‘I am not sure how because there is not much between the ears!
‘The lad made it very clear to me after the Watford game he wanted to come back and I was delighted with that.
‘There are a lot of players that come into a club, set the world alight in the first couple of games and then fade after a little bit.
‘But Joe has done it the more natural way where it has taken him time to settle in and get on board.
‘I’ve read some of the comments players have made saying they were hoping something would get sorted out about getting Joe back.
‘If we can keep him around for as long as possible I think it will only be good for Portsmouth because he’s getting better and better.’
There were high hopes for Mattock after bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old with home-town club Leicester City.
He went on to make 73 appearances for the Foxes before switching to West Bromwich Albion.
That was where he first encountered Appleton, Mattock establishing himself as a regular in the side which was promoted to the Premier League in 2010.
Since then he has barely featured for the Baggies and ended up on loan at Sheffield United for the second half of last season.
Now Appleton is enjoying finally seeing the youngster get his career back on track again.
He added: ‘Joe’s had a few difficult periods.
‘He did ever so well for West Brom in the Championship the year they got promoted with Robbie (Roberto Di Matteo) and never really made an impact the following season in the Premier League.
‘Nicky Shorey came on board and was very, very consistent in the campaign and Joe struggled a little bit.
‘He also had a couple of off-field problems which were well-documented at the time.
‘But he has got over them now, dealt with them and been mature about it.
‘Joe is just desperate to play football and that was the case when he came down here.
‘He gives a little bit of stability, a natural left-footed player on the left and frees up a few options for me to put players further up the field, such as Greg (Halford).
‘It just gives me a few options, especially having Ric (Rocha) come off injured in the last game as well.’