Kenny Jackett: Christian Burgess' best for Portsmouth still to come
Kenny Jackett believes Christian Burgess’ best is still to come as maintains his Pompey resurgence.
The 28-year-old has flourished this season, establishing himself as the Blues’ first-choice central defender, despite the ramping up of competition.
The summer arrivals of Sean Raggett and Paul Downing failed to dislodge the long-serving Burgess, who last Saturday registered his 200th outing for the club.
The League Two title winner is currently producing the form of his Fratton career, earmarking himself as an early contender for The News/Sports Mail's Player of the Season.
For Jackett, Burgess is approaching the peak years for a player in his position.
And Pompey’s boss is convinced the ex-Peterborough defender can still improve.
He said: ‘Christian has been a good part of the journey – the League Two days and now League One days.
'Like all of us, he will be hoping for a Championship leg as well. To reach 200 games is a good achievement and I am sure he’ll be determined to prolong that.
‘He’s had a good campaign so far and the partnership with Season Raggett has been the best one of the season, it’s the one I've selected the most.
‘Christian’s all-round game is good, as is his concentration and professionalism. In terms of leadership and talking, it has improved and is improving as he gets older.
‘He is coming into his peak years for a centre-back, which is somewhere between 27/28 – 32/33, and will get better.’
Burgess has made 35 appearances this season, weighing in with three goals in his last five outings.
Jackett has also employed him in both full-back positions, emphasising the crucial role the defender continues to serve.
From the end of August, he was surprisingly handed a three-game spell at right-back, which included the Carabao Cup victory at Championship QPR.
Last month he had a one-match stint at left-back, when the Blues visited Walsall in the Leasing.com Trophy, winning 2-1.
But it continues to be at centre-back where Jackett sees the player who joined Pompey in the summer of 2015.
The Blues boss added: ‘We had half a season when we did very well with Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke, so Christian was number three centre-back. Like any player, he wasn't happy being out of the team, but I was pretty confident of those three being a strong unit.
‘When Jack got injured (against Doncaster), he played the second half of the season, and in a number of different combinations for us at the start of this year, of which mainly Christian was part of it.
‘I didn’t think (in the summer) we would necessarily replace him, you need three, maybe four centre-backs. Jack was some six months away, so I wasn’t particularly considering him.
‘Once or twice Christian has been shunted out towards the full-back position, but, after getting a bit more consistency with our selection, we moved him back inside to where he is best, which is centre-back.’