Pompey defender explains importance of Wigan clash

Nathan Thompson, right, has returned from injury. Picture: Sarah Standing
Nathan Thompson, right, has returned from injury. Picture: Sarah Standing
Pompey fans enjoyed a 2-1 win on their last visit to the Memorial Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler

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It’s being billed as Paul Cook v Pompey.

But the Blues going up against their League Two title-winning manager has little significance to Nathan Thompson.

It may have been Cook who made the first in-roads to signing the defender and met him ahead of his arrival from Swindon.

The importance of Saturday’s meeting for Thompson, however, marks his first involvement in a Pompey squad.

The 26-year-old has been sidelined with a foot problem for virtually the entirety of his stay at Fratton Park.

After coming through the reserves’ win over Southend on Wednesday he’s hopeful the problem is finally behind him.

Thompson said: ‘It was Paul Cook I first spoke to about the move.

‘He didn’t really need to sell the club to me because of its stature – it comes with it.

‘But I came down, he showed me around and straight away I fell in love.

‘I’ve played against Paul’s teams numerous times.

‘There’s no added rivalry for me in that sense. He’s a good guy.

‘I look forward to saying hello to him, but it’s just about being back in for me.

‘The foot’s been tested and it went well. I’m thankful for that.

‘When it comes to Saturdays I’ve been milling around in the background.

‘It’s not nice, so it great to be involved again.’

It’s set to be a lively affair at the DW Stadium with around 2,000 Pompey fans travel up the M6.

Thompson can understand the strength of feeling from them over the occasion after Cook departed at the end of May.

The versatile talent doesn’t feel the occasion will prove a distraction, though.

‘If a manager moves to a rival team I completely understand if there’s an edge to it,’ Thompson added.

‘The lads have to detach themselves from it.

‘They can be friends before and after the game but during the 90 minutes, it’s business.

‘It’s more the fans than the player who have that edge, but the lads are focused on it.

‘It’s a tough test and the lads will have to be at it.

‘They have a strong squad and they know what it takes to get out of this league. That’s important at this level.

‘This team, though, has momentum from last season.

‘They know what promotion tastes like and will want to taste that again.

‘So it’s important to get the wins and start building momentum.’