Jackett keen to make Portsmouth midfield improvements

Kenny Jackett believes midfield improvements are needed for Pompey to reverse a worrying dip in form.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 3:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:32 pm
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Oxford United handed the Blues back-to-back league losses for the first time this season.

The Kassam Stadium result failed to knock Pompey off the top of the League One standings.

But a five-point lead on New Year’s Day has now been reduced to a single-point advantage, with in-form Luton now piling on the pressure.

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Pompey manager Kenny Jackett

Jackett’s side head to Kenilworth Road next Tuesday night as the division’s top two go head-to-head.

Pompey will need to improve on their current form if they are to get the better of Mick Harford’s side.

Saturday’s display at the U’s highlighted a number of issues that need addressing.

And focusing on the Blues’ inability to play through Oxford, Jackett admitted it’s his midfield that requires his upmost attention.

'It's something we're currently lacking, a bit of cohesion in the middle, and to be able to build up constructively.

'On Saturday, we were hitting the ball at our front men rather than passing to them.

‘In terms of our forwards, we want them to continue to score goals and get their chances.

'So I do think we need something more constructive through the middle of the field to build up well.

'Even a ball to our wide men in terms of feet, the full-back perhaps playing a one-two with the wide man and then putting a good delivery into the box.

'We've been lacking that type of cohesion, that's where we need to get to.

'I do think, through that middle third, we need a little bit more in terms of getting on the ball and building up some confidence then as a side.’

Jackett has been forced to rethink his midfield options in recent weeks following loanee Ben Thompson’s early return to Millwall.

Gareth Evans filled the void against Blackpool, accompanying regular Tom Naylor in the Pompey engine room.

He was substituted, however, in the second half as the Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat.

And the same fate was suffered by new arrival Andy Cannon at Oxford as he struggled to impose himself on the game.

Jackett has other options at his disposal, including most recent signing Bryn Morris, Dion Donohue, and Ben Close, who has just returned from a ankle injury.

Whoever the manager calls upon, he's keen for his side to rediscover their ability to impose themselves in the midfield battleground.

Jackett added: '(This season) we've looked dangerous, we've looked pacy, we have looked cohesive in terms of being able to play through sides, but it wasn't a feature on Saturday.’