Cook keen to experiment with new centre-back pairing

Jack Whatmough in action against Notts County on Monday
Jack Whatmough in action against Notts County on Monday
Pompey's Jamal Lowe cuts a frustrated figure after Bradford's smash-and-grab raid. Picture: Joe Pepler

What Pompey need to do to become a top-six side

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PAUL COOK could experiment with centre-back pairing Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke before the end of the season.

And the Pompey boss praised his side’s attitude and strength in depth.

It would be nice to see Jack play with Matt Clarke before the end of the season.

Paul Cook

The Blues have crossed the promotion finishing line with three games to go in League Two, after Monday’s 3-1 win against Notts County.

Things didn’t go to script for Pompey prior to their trip to Meadow Lane.

Matt Clarke and Danny Rose both picked up knocks and were forced to watch on from the sidelines.

Whatmough replaced the former at centre-back to play alongside Christian Burgess.

The Gosport-born defender was making his first league start since August, after struggling with injury for the majority of the campaign.

But Whatmough did not buckle under pressure in the Blues’ biggest game of the season.

He was a rock in the heart of the rearguard.

And Cook would like to see the 20-year-old play alongside Clarke sometime in the near future.

‘Because of the strength of the squad and the way the lads work in training, we say that the personnel may change but the job specification doesn’t,’ said the manager.

‘When we’re working in training throughout the week, it is irrelevant who the personnel are.

‘It would be nice to see Jack play with Matt Clarke before the end of the season.

‘I’d like to see them two lads play together as I don’t think they ever have.

‘They would have a lovely balance and both are very strong and aggressive.

‘Christian Burgess has also been outstanding throughout.

‘So we’re lucky in all areas that we have good players.’

After last year’s play-off heartbreak to Plymouth, Cook added quantity and quality to his squad during the summer and January transfer windows.

The likes of Nicke Kabamba and Stanley Aborah have struggled for pitch time in the first team, racking up just four appearances between them.

But Cook insists every member of his squad has played their part throughout the campaign because they’ve been pushing for places on the training ground.

‘When you’ve got a good club, competition for places is huge,’ the ex-Chesterfield manager added.

‘We’re strong, very strong at the minute.

‘We have good experience and energy.

‘I’ve always been happy with the players we have at Portsmouth.’

– Will Rooney