Injury-hit Pompey pay price for Checkatrade Trophy

Pompey are counting the cost of their Checkatrade Trophy involvement after sustaining yet more injuries.

Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 6:00 am
Ben Close was unable to complete last night's Checkatrade Trophy tie with Chelsea under-21s. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea under-21s to last night exit the competition.

They finished the game with 10 men when Ben Close was forced off with a quad problem after Kenny Jackett had used all his substitutes.

Nathan Thompson, who was named skipper for the Fratton Park encounter, had earlier been replaced after collecting an ankle injury.

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Nathan Thompson is substituted. Picture: Joe Pepler

They are further blows to a squad already missing Danny Rose, Gareth Evans, Brandon Haunstrup and Milan Lalkovic.

Meanwhile, boss Jackett now does not expect Stuart O’Keefe to return from an adductor problem in time for Saturday’s visit of Scunthorpe. And the casualty list continues to lengthen.

He said: ‘Nathan seemed to have an ankle problem and it was enough for him to come off.

‘Ben has a quad problem and whether that is cramp or not it is hard for me to assess right now after the game.

Nathan Thompson is substituted. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘We will see how they both are today. Oli Hawkins is okay (after coming off). He’s fine.

‘Added to Danny Rose and Stuart O’Keefe in the midfield area, we know in terms of numbers we are light. We understand that.

‘On Monday, I was optimistic about Stuart but it doesn’t seem he is going to make Saturday.

‘Possibly we’ll look into the transfer market.’

Jackett had named a strong side for the visit of Chelsea’s under-21s.

He made just one change to the team which lost against Bristol Rovers on New Year’s Day.

Midfielder Connor Ronan was handed a debut following his loan arrival from Wolves last week.

He replaced Brett Pitman in the number-10 role.

Jackett admitted the Blues’ injury-ravaged squad meant he was unable to rest or rotate players for the Checkatrade Trophy.

Instead there was a familiar look to those turning out in a competition which had last season fined Pompey for fielding understrength sides.

As it was, Kal Naismith played 37 minutes off the bench to announce his return from a knee injury.

Also among the Pompey substitutes were recent loan recruit Sylvain Deslandes and promising midfield player Theo Widdrington.

Yet injuries continue to stack up and Jackett defended his team selection.

He added: ‘It was a tough call really and who do you rest? Have we got enough?

‘We would have to play some players and haven’t necessarily got the biggest squad to be able to rest players – then you are guessing really who you can rest.

‘I just feel if we can get into the groove of playing and keep the group the same it’s something that sometimes can get through.

‘But we haven’t got the high numbers that we can change in these competitions.’