Jack Whatmough is ready to be thrust into Pompey’s first team.
That is the verdict of Joe Gallen, who believes the fully-fit defender now requires match action instead of purely training-ground involvement.
Maybe he is what we have been missingJoe Gallen
The 21-year-old was not risked in the reserves’ 4-0 friendly victory over the Royal Navy at Burnaby Road on Tuesday afternoon.
Instead, he remained to train with the first team ahead of the scheduled trip to Valley Parade, which was yesterday postponed.
Whatmough, who spent five months out with knee ligament damage, has featured once since his return – in a Premier League Cup game against Leicester under-23s last month.
Yet he is continuing to push hard for selection in training and been an unused substitute in the past two matches.
And the Blues assistant boss conceded it is perhaps time to remove the shackles from the Gosport youngster.
Gallen said: ‘Jack has trained for a while – and trained very well – while he played against Leicester last month.
‘If you speak to Jack he’s ready to play – and I think he is ready to play.
‘Eventually, he has to get on with it really because he’s had the build up, he’s had the week’s training, he’s had part of the game and he’s played in the 11v11 in training.
‘At some stage he is going to have to play, we cannot do another week’s training, he’s had a number of weeks now and looks good.
‘Maybe he is what we have been missing.
‘Jack played very well at the start of the season, but has had quite a number of serious knee injuries now. Speak to him and he will say “I’ve got to get out there and do it”.
‘There is no point us hiding him too much more, there is only so much training you can do.
‘We have to find out – and he is desperate to find out. He is really pushing it.’
In Whatmough’s absence, Mark Kelly’s reserves ran out comfortable winners against the navy through a Dan Smith hat-trick and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The likes of Brandon Haunstrup, Alex Bass, Theo Widdrington and Jez Bedford also turned out in bitter playing conditions.
However, Pompey are aware of the necessity to ease Whatmough back into the match-day environment following a second serious injury on his left knee.
The central defender has already defied doctors to return well ahead of schedule and put himself into first-team contention.
But Gallen felt it was wise to hold Whatmough back on Tuesday.
He added: ‘The game was supposed to be at 7pm and we didn’t think it would be right to risk him. I think it’s the right call actually.
‘Then the game was moved to 2.30pm, but by that stage Jack had done a full training session and we were happy for him to have that.
‘He was in the squad for Bradford, with that in mind, we didn’t want to risk him in icy conditions on Tuesday.
‘With his injury problems, that was the right thing to do, so we brought him into training with Saturday in mind.’