Defender setback – but Pompey boss sees positives

Pompey defender Jack Whatmough Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey defender Jack Whatmough Picture: Joe Pepler
Picture: Hampshire police

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JACK WHATMOUGH should be toasting the positives following his late-season Pompey emergence.

That is the verdict of Kenny Jackett, after the central defender was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign through a groin injury.

Obviously it’s disappointing for him, but at least it’s not his knee, that’s the good thing

Kenny Jackett

Sidelining him for at least three weeks, the problem was sustained during the first half of Saturday’s defeat to Charlton, prompting his substitution at the interval.

It ends a run of nine successive appearances during an impressive first-team period which saw him dislodge Christian Burgess at centre-half.

After undergoing knee surgery in September, Whatmough was initially not expected to be back in action during the duration of the 2017-18 season.

Instead, he returned to catch the eye back in the Blues frame.

And Jackett believes the Gosport youngster can be pleased with his contribution.

He said: ‘Jack has a groin injury, I don’t think he will play again this season.

‘Obviously, it’s disappointing for him, but at least it’s not his knee, that’s the good thing.

‘That’s the only thing you can say. He has played a high amount of games in training and been okay, so that’s a positive for him to take into next year.

‘It’s a groin injury that he can overcome. He’s out for three-to-four weeks and should look at the back end of the season positively going into next year.

‘Jack shielded the ball out 30 minutes into the first half and that is what has caused this.

‘We don’t expect him to play either of the next two Saturdays, but he’ll be back for next season.’

Whatmough’s blow will open the door for Christian Burgess to resume his well-established partnership with Matt Clarke.

Jackett turned to the former Peterborough player at half-time against the Addicks to replace the injured Whatmough, subsequently producing a strong display.

It represented Burgess’ first appearance in eight matches, having shifted to the bench as Pompey’s boss employed a new-look central defence.

The 26-year-old will now be handed the role against Bury and Peterborough in the final two matches of a campaign which is set to fall short of the play-offs.

In the meantime, Whatmough can be proud of his consistent displays since last month’s first-team return, initially as a third centre-half alongside Burgess and Clarke.

His comeback soon coincided with three-successive clean sheets, after the Blues had gone three months without a single shut-out in all competitions.

There was also the notable 2-1 victory over League One leaders Wigan, upon Paul Cook’s Fratton Park return.

The talented Whatmough has been dogged by setbacks since breaking into the first-team in November 2013, with two serious knee injuries the most problematic.

However, he has continued to demonstrate his ability, amassing 66 Pompey appearances, netting once.

And he will be back in time for pre-season to once again challenge for a spot.