Bradley: We must cope with defensive changes

Sonny Bradley. Picture: Joe Pepler
Sonny Bradley. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett

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Sonny Bradley believes Pompey are still learning to cope with the shifting sands of their ever-changing defence.

The Blues centre-back has been the one constant this term, playing every minute of the club’s 14 games across all competitions.

But while many of the changes have been forced upon Guy Whittingham through injury and suspension, the Blues boss has now used a staggering 11 different defensive combinations this term when you include the goalkeeper.

That has seen three keepers donning the gloves, four different left-backs, four players deployed at right-back and three centre-halves.

The combination of John Sullivan, Yassin Moutaouakil, Joe Devera, Bradley and Danny East stayed together for four consecutive games against Chesterfield, Torquay, Cheltenham and Burton Albion in August and early September.

With so little continuity, the understanding has surely been affected given that there has been at least one change in the back five in every other game this term.

And that will happen again this weekend, with on-loan goalkeeper Trevor Carson ineligible to play against his parent club Bury.

Bradley, who is one booking away from a one-match ban, believes it has made life more difficult.

But he chose not to use it as an excuse.

He said: ‘It’s not easy. I would prefer it if it was a solid four who have been there all season. I’m sure the manager would as well.

‘But the reality is that hasn’t happened through injuries and suspensions.

‘That does happen but I think we’ve adjusted well most of the time.

‘We have to get on with it and deal with it as it happens but it obviously helps if everyone builds up that understanding over a run of games.

‘I’m also on four yellow cards so if I get one more, that will mean I won’t be in the team. But we will deal with it.’

The 21-year-old has formed a promising partnership with Bondz N’Gala for six straight games now, after playing alongside Joe Devera for the early part of the campaign.

And Bradley believes aerial strength is important, up against many of the direct sides in League Two.

Bradley said: ‘I’ve built up quite a good understanding with Bondz now and hopefully we can build on that.

‘Bondz is a big, powerful centre-back, which is what I try to be myself.

‘If you have got that in this league, you are halfway there.

‘We’ve got a good understanding now and it’s only going to improve with every game we play together.’

Devera was asked to play at left-back in the 1-1 draw at Plymouth, with Marcos Painter ruled out through injury.

And the versatile former Swindon man – who has played alongside Bradley seven times at the heart of the defence – has now filled in across the back four.

Bradley said: ‘I thought Joe Devera did very well.

‘He went from right-back in the last game against Rochdale to left-back against Plymouth and it’s hard to do.

‘But he’s an experienced player and knows how to handle it.’