Jackett: Pompey team is not set in stone

Pompey celebrate Conor Chaplin's goal against Bournemouth. Picture: Shaun Boggust
Pompey celebrate Conor Chaplin's goal against Bournemouth. Picture: Shaun Boggust
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Kenny Jackett insists the countdown is on to gatecrash his Pompey starting XI.

The Blues travel to Crawley tomorrow (3pm) for their seventh and final fixture of the pre-season campaign.

The team is never is set in stone, it is always fluid and flexible

Kenny Jackett

The clock is ticking before the eagerly-awaited League One curtain-raiser against Rochdale in eight days time.

There still remains opportunity for players to force a way into Jackett’s first-team plans.

The Blues boss has elected to field a settled side during the friendly programme having employed just the one substitute in the senior team’s last two outings.

However, he admits a late surge could prompt a change of heart.

Jackett said: ‘The starting XI is always evolving and you can assess it day-by-day in terms of training.

‘While you have a fair idea of where you want to be, you must always assess every day in training – and certainly every game – to see if you want to make any changes.

‘The team is never set in stone, it is always fluid and flexible.

‘I do believe, though, players need consistency. For me, consistency of selection is needed to be successful.

‘The first-team is always open, always ongoing. It can change right up until an hour-and-half before kick-off if I think that is the right player.

‘There have been games off-site and some behind closed doors, so everyone has had a certain amount of matches to play.

‘That is what pre-season is about. Firstly to see if you can impress the new manager and secondly in terms of player condition.

‘And there is the chance for people to break into the team, very much so.’

Regardless of the door still ajar for fringe players, Jackett’s first-team preference has been obvious during the pre-season campaign.

Tom Davies has edged ahead of Jack Whatmough to replace the injured Matt Clarke in the centre of defence.

Skipper Brett Pitman and Conor Chaplin have been utilised as Pompey’s strike partnership, while Gareth Evans retains his right-back mantle. Summer loan arrival Tareiq Holmes-Dennis has served at left-back.

Jackett has noticeably handed Adam May a central midfield opportunity this summer, lining-up alongside Danny Rose.

However, Carl Baker was moved inside against Bournemouth last weekend and impressed in a role the manager believes he can perform in.

In addition, Kal Naismith returned to the left wing, with Kyle Bennett moving to the right of midfield.

Now the Blues make the trip to Crawley for the last audition piece.

‘It’s a pre-season we have inherited and I have been pleased with the attitudes of the players,’ Jackett added.

‘This is a squad game. We must be as fit and as ready as we possibly can as a group.’