How Kenny Jackett's final Portsmouth pre-season teams have reflected on his League One curtain-raiser line-ups

Time is running out for Kenny Jackett’s troops to make their case for a starting spot for the League One curtain-raiser.

Friday, 26th July 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 26th July 2019, 1:08 pm
Ronan Curtis has a shot against FC Utrecht. Picture: Ben Queenborough

Pompey travel to Crawley for their penultimate pre-season friendly tomorrow. 

And with a Blues XI side – made up of first team and academy players – set to feature at Woking on Tuesday, the manager will name as strong a line-up as possible against the League Two side.

Jackett revealed his team against Crawley will be highly similar to the one that’ll face the Shrews.

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Ronan Curtis has a shot against FC Utrecht. Picture: Ben Queenborough

The boss said: ‘You read through the squad and you can see the squad planning.

‘Similarly, as you see in the games, you can see some different partnerships but I don’t think it will be too far away barring injuries.’

And if we consider the final warm-up games of Jackett’s past two seasons in the Fratton Park hot seat, it'd suggest the XI on the team sheet at the Broadfield Stadium will also feature from the outset at New Meadow if no fresh injuries are suffered. 

During the ex-Millwall chief’s maiden campaign at Fratton Park, they also made the short trip to Crawley for their final friendly of the summer programme.

With Matt Clarke picking up a calf setback at the Hawks, it meant a berth in central defence alongside Christian Burgess was up for grabs to meet Rochdale a week later. 

It was Tom Davies and Jack Whatmough fighting it out for the spot, with the former starting in previous friendlies against Bognor and AFC Bournemouth.

A minor setback to Burgess meant Davies and Whatmough partnered each other against the Reds, with the visitors delivering a 2-1 win.

When Rochdale travelled to the south coast the following week, though, it was Whatmough who’d done enough to begin the match.

Davies had to settle for a place on the bench, before eventually departing for Coventry on transfer deadline day.

That was one of two changes Jackett did make  – with the other a big surprise.

Drew Talbot was a shock inclusion at right-back and made his first Pompey appearance for 10 months.

In truth, the fact Jackett had only taken charge two months prior still meant he was still trying to find his best combinations. 

Last summer, however, provided a better yardstick for the Blues boss’ XI for the opening league game against Luton. 

Dutch top-flight side FC Utrecht visited Fratton Park and provided a decent test.

Anton Walkes' superb first-half strike earned the Blues a 1-1 draw, although they had a surplus of chances to win the game.

Jackett played a 4-4-2 formation, with summer arrival Ronan Curtis partnering Brett Pitman up front, while Brandon Haunstrup operated as a makeshift left-winger.

Indeed, the same starting line-up was again rolled out by Jackett to face the Hatters. 

Jamal Lowe’s 16th-minute goal ensured Pompey began their season in perfect fashion.