Pompey unsure when defender will return

Joe Mattock had agreed to return to Pompey for the rest of the season
Joe Mattock had agreed to return to Pompey for the rest of the season
Matt Clarke has been named as skipper at Fleetwood tonight.

Clarke skippers youthful Pompey

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Pompey’s bid to land Joe Mattock has stalled.

West Brom have stopped their defender from rejoining the Blues as their injury woes mount.

The Baggies had agreed to let the 21-year-old extend his stay at Fratton Park until the end of the season.

Michael Appleton is still hopeful the left-back will return to Pompey – but is now not sure when that will be.

He said: ‘Joe’s on hold a bit because of the injury crisis West Brom have got. We’ve got to respect that.

‘They are his club. I speak to Joe and know he would love to come back.

‘From my view, however hard it is – and it is difficult – it’s important to stay patient. Hopefully, the West Brom injury crisis will sort itself out over the next week or two.

‘There is still time in January, so hopefully we can get him in before the end of the month – or beyond from an emergency loan point of view. He’s an option we still want on the table and I’m sure Joe does as well.

‘West Brom have no issue with him coming as long as they look after their backs.’

Mattock’s absence puts further strain on Appleton’s already hugely-stretched options.

Ricardo Rocha will be missing tomorrow with a calf problem, forcing Appleton into a defensive reshuffle.

Luke Varney is still recovering from his knee injury.

Appleton said: ‘Luke had an injection. He needs a few days for it to settle down.

‘He’s raring to go. Hopefully we can see him in training by the start of next week doing some work with the physios and ball work.

‘Then he might be able to do some contact work by the end of the week.

‘Ricardo was out doing some ball work yesterday, but this weekend is far too early for him. If we can get him out there next week, I’ll have him to choose from for the Cardiff game.’