Jack Whatmough's assessment on his Portsmouth return against Scunthorpe and how much it meant to him
Jack Whatmough toasted his Pompey return and admitted: it is a massive feeling.
The centre-back pulled on the blue shirt for the first time in just under a year against Scunthorpe at Fratton Park last night.
Whatmough came through 90 minutes unscathed as he helped Kenny Jackett’s men to a 2-1 EFL Trophy quarter-final victory – putting them within one win of a Wembley return.
It’s been a long road to recovery for the popular Gosport lad as he battled back for his latest long-term knee injury.
After a behind-closed-doors training match and an outing for the reserves at Plymouth last week, Whatmough was deemed ready to again feature for the first team.
And he was delighted with how things went.
Whatmough said: ‘There were no problems at all. I saw the physio straight away and everything seemed fine.
‘You wait for the second wind when you start getting a little bit stiff. I started feeling it around 60 minutes and I got a second wind on about 70 minutes.
‘I’d played a 60-minute in-house game against the youth team, which probably wouldn’t have tested me. Then I played 90 minutes at Plymouth for the reserves, which was made up for a few first-team players and youth-team players, so Scunthorpe was my first physical test.
‘Lee Novak is an experienced player who I've come up against before and Kevin van Veen who came on scores a lot of goals, so it was a massive test for me.
‘It was also the first time I've played alongside Raggs (Sean Raggett) so it was good and nice to try to get some sort of partnership. Then Burgey (Christian Burgess) came on and slotted in at right-back and was nice to play with him again.
‘It is a massive feeling for me to be back and one I have waited a long time and worked very hard for – I'm over the moon.’
Whatmough picked up his setback against Doncaster on February 12 last year.
Following such a lengthy lay-off, he was not only pleased to get back to action but deliver a win that puts Pompey on the cusp of going back to Wembley.
Whatmough added: ‘You just try to stay as relaxed as possible. I’ve been in this situation before coming back from injury and know what the first game is about.
‘You’ve just got ease yourself back into it. It's been eleven-and-a-half months since my last first-team game, so for me to tick that off is massive.
‘I was talking to Craig MacGillivray in the dressing room and it (when he got injured) felt like yesterday. It went around quick and I’ve been on the bench a couple of times recently. Even just warming up on a match day was massive.
‘But to play, come out of it unscathed and get a win – which is the most important thing – I’m over the moon.’