Jackett pays tribute to returning former Portsmouth loanee

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Stuart O’Keefe ended last season in the Pompey team which wrapped up with victory over Peterborough.

Now he returns to Fratton Park – this time representing Plymouth.

Former Pompey loanee Stuart O'Keefe will return to Fratton Park with new club Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Former Pompey loanee Stuart O'Keefe will return to Fratton Park with new club Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

And Kenny Jackett has praised the midfielder’s Blues impact during a loan presence which consisted of 25 games and two goals.

O’Keefe arrived in the August 2017 transfer window on a season-long loan from Cardiff, with view to a permanent deal.

Yet the combative performer’s stay was dogged by injury, including three-and-a-half months on the sidelines with a groin problem.

Last week he secured a loan move to struggling Plymouth until January, making his debut in Wednesday night’s 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to Millwall.

And he is set to feature for Derek Adams’ side against his former club in tomorrow’s Fratton clash.

Jackett said: ‘Stuart did well for us and was unlucky with injury, missing a big, big chunk of the season.

‘Now he’s at Plymouth and it’s a good move, I am sure it will be a very good fit.

‘I thought he was good for us, both spells either side of his injury. He wanted more time towards the end of the season when he got fit, but the season ran out on him just as he was getting to 100 per cent.

‘That probably summed up things for him, but he was disrupted by that big injury in the middle of the season.

‘He got over it fine in the end, though, and was a really committed performer last campaign.’

O’Keefe featured for the full 90 minutes in Pompey’s 2-0 success over Peterborough in the final match of last season.

It represented his 25th and final outing for the Blues as he returned to Cardiff.

Jackett admits he considered recruiting the midfielder on a permanent basis, yet instead opted to look elsewhere in strengthening a position devastated by injury during the second half of the campaign.

Pompey’s boss added: ‘For us, we have moved for Tom Naylor and Ben Thompson – and for Stuart it's a good move for him to Plymouth.

‘It didn’t quite work out for him with Cardiff pre-season, albeit just before the loan window finished, and I am sure he will be a solid performer for them.

‘We did look at signing him, but in the end pursued other options.

‘However, he didn't let us down at all. It was just that the season ran out for him slightly because he had only just come back from injury.’