Walkes’ versatility gives him edge over Portsmouth team-mate

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Anton Walkes’ versatility gives him the advantage over defensive team-mate Christian Burgess when the Blues are at full strength at the back.

That’s the verdict of News Pompey writer Will Rooney, who was speaking in the latest edition of Pompey Talk.

Anton Walkes returned to the Pompey squad for the visit to Coventry on Tuesday night

Anton Walkes returned to the Pompey squad for the visit to Coventry on Tuesday night

Former Spurs player Walkes was recalled to the Blues’ match-day squad for the midweek victory over Coventry.

He failed to make it off the bench for the 1-0 win at the Ricoh Arena – but, significantly, was given the nod over Burgess.

Jackett had a full quota of defensive players to chose from for the Sky Blues encounter, with Jack Whatmough now back to full fitness following a hamstring injury.

Burgess was the go-to option when the Gosport-born talent sat out the games against Shrewsbury, Peterborough and Wycombe with the problem.

Christian Burgess

Christian Burgess

His costly mistakes against the Shrews and Wanderers may have come into Jackett’s thinking when he picked his latest match-day squad.

But Rooney believes Walkes’ ability to play a number of roles means he’ll always be higher up the pecking order when Jackett has all defensive options available.

Rooney said: ‘He’s blessed with versatility, Walkes.

‘Kenny Jackett’s gone on about having two players for every position, but with Walkes he’s in a unique place where he can play in three different roles (right-back, centre-back and central midfield).

‘I don’t think Walkes has quite nailed down a spot where he is best yet.

‘For me, personally, watching him towards the end of last season he was best in that screening role, just in front of defence.

‘He played there at Walsall and kept Erhun Oztumer quiet and carried on there against Wigan, giving Nick Powell a tough game.

‘Personally, that’s the role I see him being best in.’

He continued: ‘It is clear that Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke are Jackett’s number one centre-back partnership.

‘Whether Walkes would’ve slotted into centre-back on Tuesday night at Coventry if Whatmough or Clarke got an injury is another matter.

‘Would he have brought Tom Naylor in at centre?

‘It’s an interesting one, but Walkes did play against Oxford in the reserves next to Whatmough so it will be interesting.’