JACK WHATMOUGH and Tom Davies are going head to head for a starting spot in Pompey’s League One opener.
And Christian Burgess believes whoever gets the nod to start at the back in the curtain-raiser against Rochdale will do themselves justice.
Burgess is in the box seat to bag one of the central defensive places for Kenny Jackett’s first competitive game as Blues boss.
With Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson sidelined, it appears a two-horse race to see who will partner the former Peterborough man.
Burgess said: ‘They’ve both shown they’re ready throughout pre-season and the time they’ve been at the club.
‘We should be fine, but there’s still a lot to work on.
‘There’s getting it right as a unit, gelling and getting exactly what the gaffer wants.
‘We should be in a good place for Rochdale, though, and fully prepared.
‘We’ve been working hard all pre-season and should be able to execute what’s wanted.’
It looks to be a back four against Keith Hill’s side, with Jackett continuing with the 4-2-3-1 formation Paul Cook utilised.
The manager toyed with using a three-man defence before deciding against the approach.
That’s a system Burgess has played in before and he explained he felt comfortable doing so.
‘Three at the back is a set-up I’ve played in. It’s interesting and can be very successful,’ he said.
‘The one thing, though, is you do need to work at it. You can’t just chuck it in and go with it.
‘The gaffer thought about it earlier on in pre-season, but we’ve been restricted with injuries.
‘I’m sure it’s something we’ll look at as a different formation we can adapt to.
‘If you understand it, understand each position and your job within that it can be really tough to beat.
‘Balance is a big thing with a left-footer and right-footer. That helps. I’ve played on the left of a three, though, and it’s all about understanding.
‘I was comfortable on the left, it just changes a few of your out balls.’
Despite all the formation talk, Burgess believes being good at what you do is what counts most.
He added: ‘Formations are debated about endlessly. Look at last year here with the one up top!
‘If you’re good at what you do you can perform at a high standard. Having said that, we want to play good football, get it right and open up teams.’