JACK WHATMOUGH has been backed to return from his latest injury agony.
Kenny Jackett believes the defender has the character to come back from a third serious knee complaint in his Pompey career.
Whatmough faces another long period of rehabilitation after damaging cartilage in his left knee during training.
All of his setbacks have happened over a two-and-a-half-year period for the home-grown talent from Gosport.
Jackett feels it’s natural for there to be doubts for the 21-year-old over whether he has a future in the game.
But the manager’s confident Whatmough has the resolve to win his latest fitness battle.
Jackett said: ‘It’s a long road ahead and one he knows too well. He’ll be okay.
‘He has to work hard mentally as well as physically – but he can do that.
‘That’s where it is. It’s a road he knows well and he has to have a determination to get back. There has to be focus.
‘I’ve spoken to him a lot about his path and what he has to do, how he has to look at it and take responsibility.
‘I don’t know him that well, but in the short space of time I’ve been here he seems a real good bloke.
‘He’s a Portsmouth lad who’s come through the youth system and the club means a lot to him. He’ll be back.
‘I’ve spoken to him a lot about it. You can’t help but think “can I get back? Can I have a football career?”
‘For him it’s talking through his options and making sure he covers everything.
‘Then he has to do everything in his power to work towards making it back into the first team. It’s going to be a long road for him.
‘Looking at the big picture for him and his family, it must cross your mind (the future). Definitely. I’ve talked to him about it.
‘Right now all he has to worry about is his rehab. Big picture or not, that needs doing. It’s a long process, but he knows what’s required.
‘You have to think like that. I retired through injury myself. You have to look at the bigger picture, definitely.
‘There’s no suggestion at all of that, though.
‘He has to rehab the knee whatever he’s going to do in the future. He’ll be fine.’
Jackett sees the fact Whatmough has just signed a two-year Pompey deal as significant to his rehab.
He believes that gives him breathing space to ensure his recovery isn’t rushed after a strong start to the season.
The manager added: ‘He’s played well, very well. I’ve been pleased with him. You could see all the promise of his early years.
‘The good thing is he has the contract. There’s two years on his contract so he has the time.
‘He’s not going to suddenly get to next April and then worry about trying to get back the following season.
‘He has a contract, a good medical team and a good club to support him.
‘They are positives. With the contract he has he can concentrate on one thing at a time.’