Pompey boss considers approach after O'Keefe blow

KENNY JACKETT is weighing up how to best deal with Stuart O'Keefe's injury setback.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 5:58 am
Stuart O'Keefe will be out injured for between 10-12 weeks

Pompey have been hit with the news the midfielder faces up to three months out after undergoing a groin operation.

That is likely to keep the man who is on loan from Cardiff out for the vast majority of the remainder of the campaign.

Gareth Evans is also not being risked at Rotherham as he finishes his recovery from a hamstring problem.

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Danny Rose is missing for the rest of the season with a broken leg, leaving the Blues short of experience in the middle of the park as they go to the New York Stadium.

Jackett opted to change to a wing-back formation against Scunthorpe last Saturday and bring Nathan Thompson into the centre to bolster midfield.

He has to decide whether to continue in that vein or return to the 4-2-3-1 formation utilised for most of the campaign.

That would mean Thompson moving back to right-back and using the likes of young talents Ben Close and Adam May, or Dion Donohue centrally.

Jackett admitted younger players are likely to get their chances moving forward, with Pompey short of experience in the middle of the park.

He said: ‘Stuart had an operation in the week for a hernia-type injury.

‘It’s going to keep him out for 10-12 weeks. He’ll continue his recovery here moving forward.

‘With Gareth Evans and Danny Rose dropping out we were looking for his experience to come into midfield.

‘It would’ve been great if, as Rose went out, O’Keefe came in.

‘That’s not the case, but every club gets injuries and you have to adapt.

‘He would’ve added some steel, talking and experience.

‘The likes of Rose, Evans and O’Keefe do add a lot of experience to our midfield.

‘Those younger players beneath them are getting chances now, and it’s up to them to pick it up and move on.

‘Stuart’s low and it’s tough to get your head around initially.

‘But he will be back. He’ll do it and come through this and recover.’

Evans will make his return to the fray against Shrewsbury next week, with Jackett erring on the side of caution with the 29-year-old.

The versatile talent returned to full training yesterday after missing three games to date, but will not travel to take on the team he made 49 appearances for between 2011 and 2013.

The manager wants Evans firing on all cylinders next week with options so limited at present.

Jackett added: ‘Gareth won’t make this weekend but has made good progress.

‘He will be fully fit for us for next weekend against Shrewsbury.

‘He’s okay, progressing well and was back in full training for the first time yesterday.

‘It’s a bit soon for Rotherham and we won’t take him up, but a full week’s training will have him fit for Shrewsbury.

‘He’s a good player and a popular player for us. At the point of the injury for us he was in good form, very good form.

‘If you’re looking at any type of midfield four, he contributes in terms of experience as well as a quality.’