Gallen: Pompey defender can continue at left-back

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Joe Gallen believes Matt Clarke could continue in a left-back role for the foreseeable future.

Pompey’s assistant manager insisted the defender will not remain there permanently but feels he is more than capable of filling the problem position.

Oli Hawkins was shifted to central defence from his striking role in the Blues’ 3-2 victory at Blackpool on Saturday.

As a result, boss Kenny Jackett moved Clarke to the left-hand side.

The left-back role has been a curse for Pompey this season with loanees Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Damien McCrory both suffering knee injuries.

Gallen was impressed with Clarke’s performance against the Tangerines.

He feels the former Ipswich Town talent has the ability to continue there.

But he accepts Clarke will eventually return to centre-back.

‘Myself and Kenny had chat after the game against Charlton,’ said Gallen.

‘Undoubtedly, we’re looking for clean sheets and to stop conceding.

‘Kenny decided on playing Matt at left-back as he thought it would give us the best chance of keeping a clean sheet.

‘Obviously, we didn’t get that but the back four looked big and strong in terms of winning the first header.

‘It looked manly enough, aggressive and mobile.

‘So I think there’s something in it.

‘Matt is such a good player he could play right-back!

‘He could play right-back, left-back or anywhere because Matt is a natural footballer.

‘I’m not saying he’s there to stay at left-back but it is a good option for us.

‘Matt will only get better if he plays there longer.

‘I’m sure he wants to play centre-half and he is a centre-half but Oli has done so well.’

Pompey’s defence against Blackpool was the tallest it has been all season.

Centre-backs Burgess and Hawkins both tower at 6ft 5in, while Clarke stands at 6ft 2in.

Gareth Evans, who started in the right-back role, is 6ft.

Gallen believes having height in the Blues’ rearguard can prove to be a daunting sight for their opponents.

‘It’s quite a big back four and you wouldn’t want to be coming up against it,’ he added.

‘Opponents would look at it and think who is the weak one and maybe won’t see one.

‘Hopefully, there is something in it.’