JACK WHATMOUGH is on the brink of a Pompey return.
The Blues have been boosted by the news the defender is nearly ready to start training.
Hopefully he’ll be joining in training in the next week or two.Paul Cook
But Gary Roberts is no nearer to a recovery from the ankle injury which is keeping him sidelined.
The news of Whatmough’s progress is a huge boost for the 19-year-old.
He has been out since March after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Cheltenham.
It’s been a long road of recovery for the Gosport talent since then.
But the return to training is ahead of schedule and reward for the hard and lonely hours of rehabilitation he has put in.
Pompey boss Paul Cook believes his return will afford him extra quality and depth to his central defensive options.
And the fact Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke, Adam Webster and Whatmough average an age of just 20, underlines how promising things are looking for the future.
Cook said: ‘Jacks’s coming on really well. He’s not far away.
‘Hopefully he’ll be joining in training in the next week or two. That’s great news for the lad.
‘He’s been making great strides the lad. It’s a great landmark for him.
‘If you look at our centre-halves in Burgess, Webster, Whatmough and Clarke, the oldest one is 24.
‘We’ve got four smashing players there to choose from.
‘These are the building blocks for me.’
News of Whatmough’s return is tempered, however, by Roberts’ slow recovery from his ankle injury.
The creative midfielder initially picked up the injury in September against Barnet.
Roberts played on, though, before Cook took the decision to take the 31-year-old out of the firing line.
Cook was hoping to see him back for the clash with AFC Wimbledon on Sunday.
But the Pompey boss explained it’s been slow going in his bid for fitness.
Cook said: ‘Gary is not really coming on. It’s not been good with him.
‘He’s had two scans. He’s had an MRI scan and he’s gone for an ultrasound, which we are looking for some feedback from.
‘But it gives other lads a chance.’
Meanwhile, Pompey are hoping to see Jayden Stockley step up his injury recovery this week.
Stockley has been sidelined since the start of last month with an ankle injury.
The loanee is set to return to the Blues from parent club, Bournemouth, to continue his rehabilitation.
First-team coach Ian Foster said: ‘Jayden’s in a boot.
‘He’s at Bournemouth but hopefully he’ll be back to us some time in the next three to five days.’
Goalkeepers Michael Poke (shoulder) and Paul Jones (knee) are both still recovering from injury.