Paul Cook lamented Adam Buxton’s latest injury setback but insisted: He can become a fans’ favourite here.
Having signed for Pompey from Accrington Stanley on the eve of the season, 24-year-old Buxton has yet to play a minute of League Two football this term.
That record is set to continue today, with the versatile defender ruled out of the trip to Leyton Orient after suffering a recurrence of an ankle complaint in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy draw with Reading under-23s.
Buxton had been pencilled in for his first start at right-back at Brisbane Road after tackling his fitness concerns.
But the latest setback has left both him and his boss frustrated.
Drew Talbot began the season at right-back but he is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury – meaning winger Gareth Evans is filling in.
Cook, though, is adamant Buxton has the attributes to win over the Fratton faithful – when his time comes.
‘Adam could certainly become a fans’ favourite here,’ said the boss.
‘He has an edge to him and a competitive streak.
‘He is a great lad and very popular in the dressing room.
‘Adam has got great ability but obviously his fitness levels have to improve.
‘Every time he gets to that point now of being fit, he keeps getting hurt.’
After suffering ankle ligament damage for Pompey’s second string in a Premier League Cup tie with Southend in August, Buxton has undergone an exhaustive fitness regime to get up to speed with the rest of the Blues squad.
Gruelling 5am trips to Fratton-based Bally’s Boxing Gym and sprints around Canoe Lake have become the norm, with the hard-working Scouser dropping more than a stone in weight after missing out on pre-season.
But having got himself into a position to earn an outing at Leyton Orient, Buxton failed to come through the two fixtures earmarked to complete his recovery.
The defender played a full 90 minutes in last Thursday’s goalless draw at Norwich City in the Premier League Cup as he ramped up his return to action.
But Buxton was then forced off at half-time in Tuesday night’s Royals clash.
Cook added: ‘He played at Norwich and I said to him: “If you get through these two games, we can look to pick you”.
‘Unfortunately, he hasn’t got through them.
‘It’s always his ankle that’s the problem. It is the same problem.’
The good news for Buxton is his latest setback is not expected to sideline him for long. And Blues boss Cook is not about to give up on him.
Cook said: ‘Adam is very aggressive – the likelihood is he might come and sit by me quite quickly.
‘We like a bit of aggression, though. It is nice to see one or two of their players getting treatment now and again!’