PAUL COOK insists Jack Whatmough has a Pompey future.
And he vowed the youngster would not be departing Fratton Park on loan this season.
At times the criticism of our team is we lack aggression, but they are the qualities Jack will bring to us, being aggressive off his front footPaul Cook
Whatmough was restricted to only two Blues appearances during a campaign which would mark his return from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Adam Webster, Matt Clarke, Christian Burgess and the versatile Adam Barton were Cook’s favoured choices at centre half last term.
Instead, the 19-year-old spent time on loan at the Hawks, while a similar agreement with Eastleigh fell through.
Yet with Webster’s departure for Ipswich, Whatmough has lost one of his rivals.
And Cook has challenged the Gosport youngster to stake a claim.
Pompey’s boss said: ‘It’s a big pre-season for Jack and we expect him to play and be involved in the first-team.
‘At times the criticism of our team is we lack aggression, but they are the qualities Jack will bring to us, being aggressive off his front foot.
‘It was great to see him start against Northampton, although wasn’t great to see him come off with cramp after 69 minutes – but we will give him the benefit on that!
‘Webbo has gone but Jack has come in so really we are as you were, that is how we look at it. It is now important Jack steps up.
‘Without a doubt he has a future with us.
‘For the squad the importance will be early games, the competition for places is there for all to see, the competition starts from the first kick of the ball.
‘We won’t be loaning Jack out, his future is here with us now, he needs a strong pre-season and has to establish himself as a Pompey player.’