Pompey boss agonising over defensive conundrum

Kenny Jackett has a selection conundrum as he weighs up fielding a patchwork defence.

Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 10:37 am
Ppompey centre-half Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke is the last-man standing in terms of Pompey centre-half options ahead of tonight’s visit of Crawley.

Christian Burgess, Nathan Thompson and Jack Whatmough are sidelined through injury for the Checkatrade Trophy fixture (7.45pm).

Jackett has ruled out dipping into the reserves to promote the likes of Matt Casey to fill the role.

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Instead, he is eyeing Oli Hawkins and Drew Talbot changing positions to serve as short-term stand-ins.

Then there’s Clarke, a player Pompey can ill-afford to join those defensive colleagues out injured.

And Jackett is weighing up whether to risk the former Ipswich man.

He said: ‘With Matt it’s a big one.

‘We wouldn’t want to lose our one recognised player there, but there are not a lot of options behind him.

‘We want to do the game, the competition and the club justice, we want to build on tonight if we can and get some momentum towards Sunday.

‘There is no doubt the league is very important, but we don’t want to lose badly either, whatever the competition.

‘Resting Matt is obviously something we have considered, but there are not a lot of options along our back line to be honest with you.

‘Oli is an option. I thought he did quite well on Saturday and he has played there a few times, but not much.

‘I saw him play there last year for Dagenham against Halifax, so it was not like I was going completely blind against Oldham.

‘He showed some presence against Craig Davies which helped us, In the first half it looked like every ball forward was going to result in a goal.

‘Oli brought us some presence and his passing from there was reasonable.

‘Drew is also an option. Full-backs should be able to play in the short term in the centre-back position.’