Knight: Pompey's starting XI is decided - or has it?

Pompey's penultimate friendly resulted in a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth, yet it once again demonstrated Kenny Jackett's first-team thoughts.

Monday, 24th July 2017, 4:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 10:55 am
Kenny Jackett, right, with his team during Saturday's friendly with Bournemouth Picture: Shaun Boggust
Kenny Jackett, right, with his team during Saturday's friendly with Bournemouth Picture: Shaun Boggust

Early in his Blues managerial career he has identified his favoured starting XI, highlighted by just the one substitute employed in the past two matches.

Yet football shows that something always comes left field when you are not expecting it.

So don’t necessarily expect Saturday’s side to line-up against Rochdale at Fratton Park on August 5.

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There can be an injury, a sale, a new signing or the manager changing his mind at the last minute. Players can often stick their hand up in the final two weeks of pre-season.

There are still opportunities and I certainly don’t believe the first XI is a foregone conclusion at this moment in time.

The template may be there, but there will be an opportunity for one or two to sneak their way in. Looking at it, you could say maybe three places are up for grabs.

With Matt Clarke injured, you currently have Tom Davies ahead of Jack Whatmough to replace him.

Then there is the question of whether you have Conor Chaplin and Brett Pitman as the strike force.

Elsewhere, Michael Doyle’s departure has left a hole in the centre of midfield, with Adam May previously ahead of Ben Close to fill it. Then Carl Baker was used there on Saturday!

I thought Baker did well. A couple of passes may have gone astray but I thought he put in a decent performance and I feel that may be his best position.

Still, it does come across that will be Jackett’s League One starting XI, but you never know what will happen between now and Rochdale, things change very quickly.

As for the match, we weathered the storm during the opening 10 minutes, with a number of corners and free-kicks around our penalty area. Then we got punished for the Cherries’ first goal.

We got more into it as the game wore on and in the second half upped our pace so the full-backs got forward more and decent balls were delivered into the box.

Conor showed a calm finish against a very good keeper in Asmir Begovic and was then unlucky to strike the post from a tight angle.

Brett Pitman worked very hard, Luke McGee couldn’t do anything about the goals, and I thought Christian Burgess stood out.

Finally, my thoughts are with the family of the Pompey fan who passed away during the game.

What an awful thing to happen. As ever on occasions like this, it puts everything into perspective.