Jackett: Pompey can't risk signing players with injury doubts

KENNY JACKETT warned he can't afford to take a punt on players with injury doubts.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 7:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:39 am
Injured Tareiq Holmes-Dennis is helped off the pitch against Rochdale on the opening day of the season

The Pompey boss will guard against taking a risk on those with question marks over their fitness next season.

Jackett is busy working on recruiting the players to get his team into the Championship at the second attempt.

There is a list of options already assembled and deals lined up to arrive, with Republic of Ireland under-21 international Ronan Curtis likely to be the first through the door.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Injured Tareiq Holmes-Dennis is helped off the pitch against Rochdale on the opening day of the season

It remains to be seen if Jackett will return to the seven loanees he had at Fratton Park across the 2017-18 campaign.

Anton Walkes is a favoured option, with the Spurs man’s versatility viewed as a big asset.

But Jackett is keen to avoid a repeat of the injury problems which impacted the bid to make the play-offs during his first season in charge.

That leaves a doubt over many of the other loanees returning.

Stephen Henderson picked up a thigh injury on his debut in February

Tareiq Holmes-Dennis picked up a knee injury on the opening day which ruled him out for the entire campaign.

On top of that, fellow loanee Stuart O’Keefe missed four months with a groin problem, while Stephen Henderson was ruled out for the campaign when injuring his thigh after arriving in the January window.

Matty Kennedy also had an ongoing ankle problem for much of the season.

Jackett feels it’s possible to take a calculated gamble on a player’s fitness, but feels you can’t afford to do that too many times in your squad.

He said: ‘You can’t carry people. You can’t carry too many injured players. You just can’t.

‘You do sometimes take a chance.

‘You do sometimes take a player knowing you have to work and they have to work. You need to have a little bit of luck sometimes with that.

‘But with the majority of the squad you need them to be robust throughout the course of the season. You can’t afford them not to be.

‘There’s times when you can see the risk-reward strategy is there.

‘In terms of the players, though, you want them to be fully fit and firing. You want them to be ready to hit the ground running. It can’t be any other way.’

Jackett is expecting a fully-fit squad to be in place when Pompey return for pre-season training on June 27.

He currently has 16 men at his disposal on top of third-year scholars Matt Casey and Matt Smith.

Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain will be given the chance to prove his fitness after breaking his leg.

Jackett added: ‘Our anticipation is our entire squad will be fit and available from day one of the new pre-season.

‘That’s a good place to be in.

‘We don’t think for a minute we won’t then not get any injuries.

‘But we have no long-term injuries at the moment, which is good and everyone is ready and able to start.

‘We are then able to add some quality, competition and some hunger into the squad to keep it fresh, because you always need to freshen things up.

‘Hopefully, we can then have a good pre-season and build on it.’