Jackett: Outstanding Thompson can play big part in Portsmouth’s season

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Kenny Jackett is convinced ‘outstanding’ Ben Thompson can continue as a key Pompey performer.

The midfielder lost his Blues spot against Peterborough last weekend, with Ben Close instead preferred to feature alongside Tom Naylor.

Kenny Jackett believes Ben Thompson has played some 'outstanding' games. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kenny Jackett believes Ben Thompson has played some 'outstanding' games. Picture: Joe Pepler

It followed Close coming off the bench to replace the Millwall loanee at half-time in two of his previous three outings.

Overall, Thompson has been an impressive presence in Pompey’s charge to the top of League One, despite subdued showings against Doncaster and Shrewsbury.

And while Jackett may hold Close in high regard, he recognises the value of the talented Thompson’s contribution.

Pompey’s boss said: ‘Ben (Thompson) has had some outstanding games – and a couple where I don’t think he has quite brought his strengths to it.

‘He has a real strength at times to get to the ball first, be able to close people down and, off the back of that, is an accurate passer.

‘When he’s not quite getting into the game quickly enough, that is when it has perhaps been slightly bypassing him in that area.

‘But he’s a good player, a very, very good character and will be a plus for us during the course of the season.

‘Ben hasn’t played a lot of football, that is part of it, some of it is tactical.

‘As I say to the players, you have to use the squad, and use it as best you can to try to win the games.

‘He’s a very good player, I’m very confident he will have a good season for us.’

Before his Fratton Park arrival, Thompson had started just three league matches for Millwall in 2018.

In fact, he had featured just once for the Lions since February 6 – a Carabao Cup match against Gillingham last month.

Pompey have offered the prospect of regular first-team football once again, with the 22-year-old playing six times so far.

Certainly, Thompson has caught the eye of the Fratton faithful with his all-actions displays.

And Jackett acknowledged what his two midfield options bring.

He added: ‘Thompson tackles, he reads the game and gets interceptions, there’s also the pressure he can put on people, his game thrives on that.

‘Then there’s the simple pass and, off the back of that, he has a low centre of gravity and gets himself out of tight situations.

‘Ben Close is more your classic passer that can get the ball off the back four and get you playing slightly.

‘But I have time for both of them – and will need both of them and more over the course of the season.’