Jack Whatmough closes in on return as Pompey pencil in comeback fixture date

Pompey have targeted Thursday for Jack Whatmough’s next step towards a potential first-team return.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 6:15 am

However, Kenny Jackett insists a potential behind-closed doors fixture is reliant on quality of opposition and weather conditions.

They are now seeking to arrange friendly opposition to serve as the next test in the 23-year-old’s ongoing rehabilitation.

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An in-house match was last week scrapped following heavy rain, with the defender instead continuing to train with Pompey’s first team.

Jackett is now aiming for a Thursday fixture, although admits finding opposition – and the right weather conditions – has proven difficult.

The Blues boss said: ‘Getting a friendly has been difficult, the weather is really bad, but every week which goes by Jack is improving in terms of his fitness.

‘Not just fitness, but his confidence, confidence in his knee, when training with the first team.

Pompey defender Jack Whatmough

‘We could put him against a collection of youth players or under-16s, but I don’t think he’ll get as much out of that as maybe playing against our first-team centre-forwards, which he is now.

‘Jack doesn’t necessarily overthink things, he is a very positive person, a very positive person, and at the moment is very confident with his knee.

‘It is coming up to about a year with his knee, which is where we thought he would be. It’s just where and when it’s the right opportunity for a match.

‘There needs to be a game in which if he’s not quite right at any stage you can take him off, it needs it be that level.

‘With in-house games you can control it, although there is no point of the match being such a low grade that it goes below the training we are doing.

‘We are looking for something this week, there is a gap on Thursday for an in-house game, but similarly we need to see how the weather goes.’

Pompey were forced into reshuffling their entire back four at Accrington on Saturday.

The outcome was the Blues’ heaviest league defeat in almost six years, as the hosts ran out 4-1 winners.

It remains far too early for Whatmough’s consideration, with friendly fixtures essential ahead of any potential first-team comeback.

Jackett added: ‘We have a lot of 8v8s or 9v9s and if Jack is part of, let’s say, a back three, which he was last week, then he’s up against Harrison and Marquis. That's pretty good for him.

‘Any game depends on the weather. Would you put him on a pitch where there is no stability? That’s the last thing you need following any injury.’