Pompey man enjoys blast from the past

Nathan Thompson rolled back the years '“ and emerged with man-of-the-match honours.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 9:00 am
Nathan Thompson, centre, congratulates Jamal Lowe following his opener against Scunthorpe Picture: Joe Pepler

But he still prefers being a right-back.

The 27-year-old was among a bundle of surprises sprung by Kenny Jackett on high-flying Scunthorpe at the weekend.

The Blues lined up in a 3-5-2 formation for the Fratton Park encounter, consisting of Jamal Lowe serving at right-wing-back and Oli Hawkins as one of the back three.

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For the Fratton faithful, perhaps the biggest shock was the sight of right-back Thompson operating as a central midfielder.

Not that the role was unfamiliar to the softly-spoken player, whose formative years had been spent there before being converted to a right-back while in Swindon’s under-18s.

The vast bulk of Thompson’s 187 Robins appearances arrived in defensive positions, yet his previous midfield outing was in January 2017 during a 1-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers.

And he believes he can continue to step in should the Pompey need arise.

Thompson said: ‘When I was a kid at Swindon in the under 14-15s, midfield was my position. It was only when I stepped up to under-18s that they put me at right-back.

‘On other occasions at Swindon we would play three at the back and I was the sweeper. That meant as soon as the ball went forward then I would step in front of the back two, making it a back four with myself playing defensive midfield.

‘Before Saturday, the last time I had played midfield was at Swindon – and it didn’t go very well.

‘We were in a difficult time, we were in a relegation dogfight and it was an uncomfortable afternoon, that’s for sure. We lost 1-0.

‘But it’s a position I have grown up playing in the youth teams and am happy to go in there when required.

‘As you get more and more experienced, you know the positions to pick up and the gaffer said to me “just use your experience, you know what to do”.

‘I’d like to think I went about my business on Saturday consistently, although was disappointed we didn’t come off the pitch with all three points.

‘For me, the last 10-15 minutes when your legs are giving up on you is not nice, but on the whole it’s a position I enjoy because I like to press, like to defend and I enjoyed it there.’

The scoreline against the Iron ended 1-1, with Kevin van Veen cancelling out Jamal Lowe’s 15th-minute opener.

Pompey now make the trip to Rotherham on Saturday, with Jackett once more weighing up whether to line up in a 3-5-2.

Thompson is willing to continue in his midfield role – yet right-back remains his preference.

He added: ‘I wouldn’t say I am naturally a midfielder, I have played the majority of my games at right-back and you learn the tricks of the trade at right-back.

‘The pressing and harassing is one of my qualities anyway when I play right-back, I like that part of the game so it fits when you go into there and you can adapt.

‘I enjoyed it, but I know right-back, it is the position I know best and I will probably edge towards that as my preference.’