Rocha poised for surprise Pompey recall

Ricardo Rocha in action against Doncaster earlier this season
Ricardo Rocha in action against Doncaster earlier this season
Pompey's second-year scholars back in 2016 when they signed up. Picture: Colin Farmery

Crunch time approaching for fledgling Pompey talents

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Ricardo Rocha is poised to answer Pompey’s defensive SOS and make a surprise return in tomorrow’s trip to Doncaster.

Aaron Mokoena is missing for the clash at the Keepmoat Stadium after failing to get a work permit in time.

The Blues skipper, who is currently in South Africa after returning to his homeland on international duty, is now not allowed back into the country until the paperwork has been settled on Monday.

The bombshell was dropped on Steve Cotterill before training yesterday morning.

That has put Rocha in the frame for a recall after failing to make the starting line-up for the past six matches.

During that time, Pompey’s defensive woes have continued.

The 32-year-old featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Reading on Tuesday as the Blues ran out 1-0 winners.

And the Portuguese is now set to partner Greg Halford in the centre of defence as Cotterill’s men seek their first win in 11 matches.

The Blues boss said: ‘Aaron is still waiting to get his work permit and we are trying to find out how long he knew about this.

‘Against Reading in the week, there were a few people who had a full 90 minutes who haven’t had that through injury, suspension or – in Ricardo’s case – re-injury.

‘What has happened with Ricardo is that from day one when he started training and playing here he was two months behind everybody else.

‘He has had no pre-season. He’s come in and had a few injuries, namely a couple of hamstrings. When they go he’s come back, then they go again and he comes back.

‘The other week we had him on the bench just for the numbers, really.

‘Then he played again, it recurred, he came off.

‘What do you do? Just play him until it tears and then don’t have him for eight weeks?

‘For me, Ricardo could be like this throughout the season because he never got a pre-season under his belt and you need a pre-season.

‘He has done very well when he has played. He’s got games under his belt.

‘But he is no different to any of the others who have made individual mistakes at different times.

‘It’s about him staying fit and the game the other day will do him the power of good.’

Mokoena’s work permit problem is yet more drama for Pompey.

Last month, the former Blackburn man was suspended for two matches.

And Cotterill wants to know why his permit problem was not sorted then.

He added: ‘I knew last Friday that when he went to South Africa he was going to get his work permit.

‘I told him to go and see the South African coach and find out if he could go on the Monday just gone to see about his work permit because it takes five days.

‘That means he’s back by Saturday then.

‘From what I gather, he couldn’t get the time off so he’s not back in time now.

‘If Aaron knew about this, potentially he could have gone when he was suspended a few weeks ago.’