POMPEY’s central-defensive pairing can establish themselves in the Championship.
And the Matt Clarke-Christian Burgess link-up has been backed to achieve that aim at Fratton Park.
Blues assistant manager Joe Gallen has no doubt about the talent the duo at the back for his side possess.
He has extensive experience in the second tier of the English game during his time as Kenny Jackett’s No2 at Millwall and Wolves.
And the 45-year-old has no doubt Burgess and Clarke both belong at that level.
Gallen has been hugely impressed with what he’s seen of the pair in his time at Fratton Park.
With Jack Whatmough out long term, they look set to establish themselves this season again.
Gallen sees them as big assets who can fulfil their ambitions with Pompey.
He said: ‘When fit, Christian and Matt have played together a long time.
‘In terms of Christian, he’s been very, very consistent with us.
‘He’s a great person to work with. He wins his headers and is a natural defender.
‘He’s mobile and at times can look like a Rolls Royce at this level.
‘Matt has a big future – a big future.
‘They are two players who have nailed down their positions at the club, but should be looking to do it on an ongoing basis.
‘They should be looking to get us in the Championship because both players could play there.
‘Those two lads can play in the Championship.
‘That’s why we’re here – to get into that league, and get into it as quickly as we can.
‘I don’t see why we can’t get into that league and stay there with those two playing centre-half.
‘Once we get into it they will both be fine.’
Clarke has proved he has quality which belies his relative inexperience in the game at the age of 21.
The former Ipswich defender has still picked up 75 first-team appearances for Pompey, however, with Burgess set for his 100th outing against Oldham today.
Gallen pinpointed the attributes which make Clarke a standout talent.
‘With Clarke it’s hard to imagine he’s 21. More like 31,’ he said.
‘I didn’t know that at the start of the season and thought he’s always hanging around with the younger players! I was thinking, why is that? I didn’t realise he was 20 at the time!
‘But I’m not just talking about looks, I’m not here to comment on that! I’m talking about the way he plays.
‘We missed him at the start of the season. He’s important for us.
‘There aren’t many left-footed centre-halves who can win headers and defend. There’s aren’t many who are as mobile and comfortable on the ball as him.
‘He has a terrific attitude and is constantly working on his game and physique. He can go a long way.’