Pompey: Jack Whatmough makes case for defence

Jack Whatmough rises highest at a corner against Salisbury on Tuesday. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jack Whatmough rises highest at a corner against Salisbury on Tuesday. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Jack Whatmough hopes his ability to excel in both sides of the game will aid his challenge to regain a Pompey first-team place.

But the 19-year-old central defender, who only recently returned to action following a long-term knee injury, is under no illusions that the task will be a tough one.

That’s after boss Paul Cook reacted to the departure of fans’ favourite Adam Webster to Ipswich with the permanent acquisition of former loanee Matt Clarke – as part of the deal – as well as securing the services of Accrington’s Tom Davies.

For Whatmough, that means he is up against three other recognised centre-backs in Clarke, Davies and Christian Burgess.

Cook has also outlined his plans to utilise midfielder Adam Barton in a defensive role, as he did last term, with his preference for ball-players extending to his backline.

Whatmough, who has previously played for the Blues in a defensive-midfield role and is comfortable in possession, feels it is a footballing philosopy that suits his game.

That’s not to say the teenager is not tenacious in the tackle, though.

He said: ‘I can play football and I can do the ugly side as well.

‘Hopefully that fits into the manager’s plans.

‘He is the gaffer and he makes the choice at the end of the day.

‘But hopefully I can do enough to make him pick me – and that is what I’ll be giving everything to do.’

A new season brings a new start and with close friend and fellow Pompey Academy graduate Webster flying the nest, Whatmough is keen to capitalise by stealing an early march on his fellow defenders.

He said: ‘Webbo has gone but it is a fresh start for everyone now.

‘You have got to cement a place in the team and, for me, hopefully I can do that in pre-season and make that slot my own.

‘It is going to be tough because there are a lot of great centre-halves at the club, so I know I have my work cut out to try to get in there.

‘Christian had a good season last season and Clarkey did as well.

‘Tom Davies has just come in and is going to be a good player.

‘The gaffer won’t bring in players who aren’t worthy of being at the football club.

‘And, for me, it is healthy for us all to have that competition.’

While Pompey failed in their ultimate goal of achieving promotion last term, their defensive record was impressive.

Indeed, the Blues conceded less than a goal a game on average with 44 shipped in 46 League Two outings to give them the joint second-best record in the division.

And Whatmough is not looking to come in and change a tried-and-tested formula.

He added: ‘It is hard to say what I can come in and change really because the players last season did a great job.

‘We looked at it yesterday and we conceded 44 goals last year which is good.

‘But it can be better and we all know that.

‘Hopefully I can build a partnership with someone and be solid and we can have a good season.’