Able deputy sent this message as Portsmouth set for defensive reshuffle against Blackpool

James Bolton has been told to be ready for his next opportunity ahead of a Pompey defensive reshuffle.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:37 pm
James Bolton. Picture: Nigel Keene

The amicable defender hadn't made a League One appearance all season before his surprise recall at Charlton earlier this month.

With Jack Whatmough serving a three-match suspension and Rasmus Nicolaisen away for the birth of his second child, Bolton partnered Sean Raggett in central defence.

The duo helped Pompey deliver wins over the Addicks and Swindon, along with a 2-2 draw against Plymouth.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bolton's eye-catching displays meant he kept his starting spot at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night.

The returning Nicolaisen only made the bench, while Whatmough was surprisingly omitted from the squad despite being fully fit.

However, Bolton was replaced by Nicolaisen half-time as Pompey slipped to a dismal 3-1 loss at the Memorial Stadium.

He's vying with Nicolaisen to start alongside Raggett in the heart of the back four.

As a result, Bolton's set to drop out of the starting line-up – and might be jettisoned from Pompey's squad completely.

Assistant manager Joe Gallen said: ‘With James Bolton and Sean Raggett, they played at Charlton and it was a very good performance then we got a draw and a win.

‘It looked like a more natural left-footed centre-half would help the balance of our team (by bringing on Nicolaisen).

‘But James has done great because he has come out of nowhere and played in games slightly out of position.

‘He's played very well and it's a credit to his professionalism because, as he should, he's stayed fit and performed when asked to get us some points.

‘Rasmus came on and he contributed to a decent second-half performance.

‘There are some good options and it is a strong position for us. Whoever gets the nod has to realise there are two lads waiting to get their place.’

Gallen accepts it will be tough if it is Bolton who’s sacrificed – but he will have to accept the decision.

He added: ‘We are all professionals and the manager makes decisions. The players will have the decision explained to them and get on with it.

‘Any player who's not in the team won't be happy but the manager will make his decisions.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

The News has launched a new subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage, starting at less than £1 a week.