ADAM BARTON has been earmarked for a centre-back role again this season.
And Pompey boss Paul Cook has revealed he is also weighing up bolstering his defensive options further.
I think Adam has become a fans’ favourite very quickly, he is such an accomplished centre-halfPaul Cook
Barton started the Blues’ final five matches of last term as he continued to flourish in a foreign role at the heart of the defence.
Although recruited as a central midfielder from Coventry, Cook converted the 25-year-old to a centre-half.
Overall, half his 16 starts were spent in Pompey’s back four.
Christian Burgess, Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke represent the conventional candidates for selection.
But the Blues boss again intends to utilise Barton at centre back.
He said: ‘I cannot speak highly enough about Adam and the centre of defence is where I see him at the moment.
‘I think he has become a fans’ favourite very quickly, he is such an accomplished centre-half.
‘He reads the game so well, never looks flustered and is a credit to himself, especially in those games at the end of the season.
‘The lad was superb at AFC Wimbledon where, in my opinion, we won comfortably against a very potent opposition front line.
‘Adam never looks out of place. Certainly whenever you pick him you don’t worry about it or fret.
‘So for me at the minute Adam’s position is centre-half – while I also know he can go into the centre of midfield.
‘All in all, we are looking at that versatility.’
Cook has recruited six players during a busy summer so far.
Among them are Clarke and Drew Talbot, with fellow defenders Adam Webster and Ben Davies having departed Fratton Park.
Compared to last season, it still leaves the Blues one down in the centre of defence, with Clarke having spent the campaign on loan ahead of his permanent arrival.
However, Whatmough’s return to fitness could off-set that, with Cook already voicing his backing for the youngster.
Pompey’s manager previously told The News he is seeking right-back cover for his summer recruit Talbot.
And according to Cook, another central defender is also a consideration.
He added: ‘We are possibly looking for another centre-half.
‘We are always looking to strengthen the squad, the scrapping of emergency loans makes it difficult so you must have great depth.
‘With these new rules, smaller squads will go out the window a bit.
‘But I don’t like lads out of the team whose attitudes towards work is not right, I don’t like lads who sulk around training grounds.
‘You have got to look at the market, finances dictate, but if something was there and we felt it was right for us then I am sure we would do it.’