O'Keefe ready to drive Pompey play-off push

STUART O'KEEFE has declared himself ready to drive Pompey into the League One play-offs.

Tuesday, 10th April 2018, 7:00 am
Pompey's Stuart O'Keefe

The on-loan midfielder announced his injury return on Saturday following three-and-a-half months on the sidelines.

His entrance from the bench for the final 30 minutes of the 3-3 draw at Rochdale represented a timely comeback for the Blues.

Anton Walkes collected a hamstring injury in stoppage time, with Pompey still assessing the extent of damage.

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However, O’Keefe’s availability with five matches remaining delivers a potential midfield replacement to Kenny Jackett.

And the 27-year-old is relishing the opportunity to contribute towards Pompey’s late-season surge.

He said: ‘I think I’m ready to start. It’s down to the manager, while the boys are on a good run, so we will see.

‘Saturday was a good milestone for me. To come on and test myself was good, it was end-to-end and a great one to come into.

‘That was my first game since December and dusted the cobwebs off, testing the injury.

‘I had to make sure I was fully fit and into the swing of things because it’s an unforgiving month which could be really important for Pompey.

‘It has been a long time coming, finally I’ve made a contribution and have a feel of football again. Injury is part of football, so it’s great to be among it again after such a long time out.

‘I returned to training in March and was back in the squad for the Easter weekend. That was a week or two ahead of schedule, which was always what I wanted to do.

‘I haven’t played any reserve games, but we had an in-house match against a few of the boys not playing and some younger lads, just to get me ticking over.

‘Obviously there is nothing like a match scenario, so to come on and get 30 minutes at Rochdale was good and something ticked off.

‘I have to make sure I am right and that appearance proves I am there or thereabouts – now I want to kick on in the last month.’

O’Keefe had been sidelined since mid-December following separate groin injuries sustained against Bury.

Pompey’s central midfield options were further weakened by Danny Rose breaking his leg two weeks later.

It subsequently developed into a problem position for Jackett, who was unable to capture a replacement in the January transfer window.

Regardless, the Blues stand one point from fifth spot and are play-off contenders.

O’Keefe added: ‘I think we can come on strongly.

‘We’ve fallen victim to injuries and suspensions this year, but there is still every chance to make the play-offs.

‘With a full-strength squad, bar Danny Rose, going into the last month we need to be really positive about it and give it a right good go and see where we end up.

‘I feel good and am available for Plymouth.’