Burgess: New-look Pompey rearguard requires time

Wimbledon goalkeeper George Long is put under pressure by Matt Clarke, left, and Christian Burgess at Kingsmeadow Picture: Joe Pepler
Wimbledon goalkeeper George Long is put under pressure by Matt Clarke, left, and Christian Burgess at Kingsmeadow Picture: Joe Pepler
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A familiar face has returned by his side, yet two newcomers have entered the defensive unit.

Pompey’s back four continues to evolve – and Christian Burgess is under no illusions over the time frame required to create an effective understanding.

With a few changes in the side, it will always take a bit of time just to get to know players, but I thought the new lads did really well

Christian Burgess

Kenny Jackett’s men ran out deserved 2-0 winners at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday to open their winning account on the road.

It also represented a second clean sheet of the campaign for a much-changed Blues rearguard.

Jackett reverted to a back four at Kingsmeadow, with Matt Clarke partnering Burgess at the heart of the defence.

Meanwhile, Damien McCrory was handed a Pompey debut at left-back, while Nathan Thompson was granted a first start at right-back.

Last season, former boss Paul Cook rarely strayed from the Gareth Evans/Burgess/Clarke/Enda Stevens axis.

Now Jackett is attempting to construct a new-look defence to excel at League One level, with tomorrow night’s trip to Northampton (7.45pm) the next test.

Burgess said: ‘As a defensive unit, we stuck to the task well and a clean sheet is obviously a positive.

‘Damo (McCrory) had a great debut, he played really well, Clarkie did great and so was Nath (Thompson), while the boys in front battled hard.

‘Sometimes games are going to be like that and it is pleasing to know we can stand up to that physical test.

‘We were very focused and concentrated on what we had to do as a unit. We had that solidity and didn’t get carried away with anything, doing the simple things right, which was important.

‘With a few changes in the side, it will always take a bit of time just to get to know players, but I thought the new lads did really well.

‘It looks promising, but it will take a bit of time. You cannot get too high over that one.

‘Clarkie and myself know each other’s game quite well now, when to cover each other and what the other is going to do.

‘It’s always good to keep a bit of continuity, but you’ve always got to adapt with injuries and be prepared to work with others and communicate.

‘And I thought the two new lads did really well and fitted in great.’

The Blues tomorrow night head to a Northampton side under the new management of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

They collected a 1-0 triumph over Doncaster on Saturday in his first match in charge. It was also their maiden victory of the campaign.

Similarly, Jackett’s men head into the fixture buoyed by a League One win and eager to build on it.

Burgess added: ‘The games come thick and fast and Northampton will be a really tough match, so we’ve got to get our heads on and go again.

‘At Wimbledon I headed it more than kicked it, which was actually not pleasing.

‘I should have chested it a few more times, but on a pitch like that it’s quite small so better safe than sorry.

‘If we can just work on our build-up play a little bit and maybe relax at times, I think we can be a force to be reckoned with this season.’