Jackett: Pompey pair scrapping it out for wing-back role
Sylvain Deslandes and Brandon Haunstrup have been pitched head-to-head in the battle to claim Pompey's left wing-back slot.
Kenny Jackett’s preference is for Dion Donohue to occupy a central-midfield role in the 3-5-2 system employed last weekend.
That leaves youngsters Deslandes and Haunstrup scrapping it out to feature as the Blues’ left-sided wing-back.
Deslandes was given the nod against Gillingham, representing his Fratton Park debut – and second appearance since joining on loan from Wolves.
However, he was replaced by Haunstrup in the 65th minute, who went on to impress Jackett with his delivery from the left flank in attacking positions.
The Blues travel to Oldham on Saturday, with the new formation being weighed up to continue.
And Jackett confirmed the pair were fighting it out between them to be considered.
The Pompey boss said: ‘Sylvain’s a powerful player but, in terms of his selection on the ball, he has to maybe get some calmness – and he has that in training.
‘Similarly, I was pleased with Brandon when he came on. He put in two or three very good crosses and, for us, with him coming back there are some options there.
‘It was very close between Brandon and Sylvain to start against Gillingham.
‘I just felt maybe a defender was needed in that position (Deslandes), whereas Brandon can get forward very well.
‘In the end, they both got part of the game and if I can have two for one position that would be good. Both of them there also helps me strengthen the midfield with Donohue.
‘They will be fighting it out to try to play this weekend.
‘If I have options like that it does help me strengthen an area we haven’t quite got right, which is midfield.
‘With Dion, I hope he can be flexible enough to go in there and make a difference. We have needed it since the likes of Rose, O’Keefe and Evans have been out.’
Haunstrup’s 25-minute cameo against the Gills marked his first outing since Boxing Day.
The Waterlooville youngster twisted his knee in the home win against AFC Wimbledon, before also suffering tendonitis.
Until his injury blow, he had demonstrated his best Pompey form over a period of six successive matches as he grew in confidence.
With Haunstrup sidelined, Jackett recruited Deslandes in the January transfer window for the remainder of the campaign.
However, despite being named in the subsequent 11 squads, he has made only two appearances – the fewest of Jackett’s fit loanees.
It represented a surprise to see him line up against Gillingham – an outing which added to his debut in the 1-0 defeat at Rotherham in January.
Deslandes featured for 66 minutes on that occasion, before being replaced by Molineux team-mate Connor Ronan.
Now Jackett must decide between the pair should the 3-5-2 be retained at Boundary Park.
He added: ‘Brandon put those balls into the box when he came on against Gillingham.
‘Our two centre-forwards were outside the box at that particular time and you are looking for the likes of Conor Chaplin, Kal Naismith and Jamal Lowe, from the other side, to be able to get onto them.
‘The keeper is big and came for a lot, but they were three good balls which the centre-half headed out unopposed.
‘Those guys have to be in those crossing areas and also we need the likes of Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins to be there because that’s their job.
‘As for Sylvain, he is a very good athlete with good pace, good power and a natural left-back in a four or, if you go to a back three, can play on the left or left wing-back.
‘I am sure he will get other opportunities. The stronger we are, the better we’ll be.’