Mokoena forced to wait it out

Aaron Mokoena
Aaron Mokoena
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin struggles to hide his disappointment

Southend 3-1 Pompey: They said what?

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Aaron Mokoena knows he needs to be patient as he bids to work his way back into the Pompey side.

The Blues captain lost his place recently when he had to stay in South Africa while on international duty to renew his work permit.

That administrative mix-up saw him miss the 2-0 win at Doncaster Rovers – the first of Pompey’s five straight wins which have propelled them up the table.

And while he appeared as a substitute and scored in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Scunthorpe, he knows he could be back on the bench for Saturday’s home clash with Sheffield United if Steve Cotterill keeps faith with the defence that has now registered five consecutive clean sheets.

Mokoena said: ‘It’s not difficult for me at all.

‘I’m a team player – it’s not about me as an individual.

‘In football, you have to understand that if the team is doing well, it’s hard for the manager to change things.

‘As much as I’ve been in this game for so many years, I do understand the suituation.

‘I’ve got to understand it, just get my head down and get on with it.

‘From my point of view, the most important thing is to do what I can at the training ground and do my best to get that moment and get my chance again. The manager is the one who decides the team and I totally respect that.’

While the South Africa skipper was the mainstay of the defence for much of the season, Greg Halford and Ricardo Rocha have formed a commanding partnership in recent weeks.

Mokoena has been used in midfield and, with both Joel Ward and Hayden Mullins battling injuries, the 30-year-old may get his starting chance again at the weekend.

But he insists he is more concerned with results and playing his part – even from the bench.

He said: ‘What I am most delighted about is that the team is winning games again. It’s all about the team for me.

‘It’s not about me, it’s more about what this team does and it’s about what I do when I come off the bench.

‘I’ve done that a couple of times and I think I have contributed.’