Pompey wait on Walkes’ fitness as midfielder returns

Nigel Atangana

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Kenny Jackett saluted the return of Stuart O’Keefe’s drive to midfield.

But the Pompey boss is sweating on the fitness of Anton Walkes after the 3-3 draw at Rochdale.

Stuart O'Keefe returned from injury at Rochdale. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

Stuart O'Keefe returned from injury at Rochdale. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

O’Keefe returned to action at Spotland after four months out, as he picked up a 30-minute second-half outing.

That was the 27-year-old’s first appearance for nearly four months, after being named on the bench in the past couple of outings.

Jackett has no doubt the Cardiff loanee can prove influential over the remainder of the season.

The boss said: ‘With the likes of (Oli) Hawkins and (Matty) Kennedy coming on we have players who can impact games. I didn’t use (Connor) Ronan, who’s a good player.

‘We feel we’re stronger and we want to keep that.

‘With O’Keefe coming back it gives us a bit of drive and experience which we’ve lacked at times in midfield.

‘He’s been sub for a couple of weeks but we’ve missed both him and Danny Rose, because they are our experience in midfield.

‘While you always need younger players around we’ve missed them at the right time. He can definitely add something to us.

‘He’s got good drive and organisation. We’re pleased to have him in our group.’

Pompey will assess the fitness of Walkes who went down with a hamstring injury in stoppage time.

The 21-year-old was again utilised in a defensive-midfield role, but the Blues are now waiting to see the extent of the problem.

Jackett said: ‘Anton has a hamstring injury.

‘It’s early and hard to judge at the moment.

‘It’s hard to know if it’s a problem or not.

‘He’s felt something in his hamstring at the end. Whether that’s something or nothing it’s tough to say at this stage.’

Jackett reserved praise for the quality of Brett Pitman’s first goal after he linked up impressively with Jamal Lowe.

The Pompey boss explained the skipper is staking his claim for a hat-trick, but feels he will do well to claim the third goal with Matt Done getting the final touch.

Jackett added: ‘Switching Jamal Lowe central at the right time helped us and we got a great goal back.

‘I felt it was an outstanding goal breaking into the space.

‘Brett’s still trying to claim the third goal in the dressing room, but it was Done who clearly headed it in.

‘I think he’s trying to say if he’d missed it would’ve gone it, but I don’t think he’ll get his hat-trick.

‘It’s two good goals from him, though, and he put pressure on the defender for the own goal.’

– JORDAN CROSS