Kenny Jackett lauds Christian Burgess as Portsmouth welcome his Ipswich return
Kenny Jackett has lauded ‘consistent’ Christian Burgess as the defender limbers up for a first-team recall.
The 28-year-old will come straight back into the Blues’ side against Ipswich on Saturday after serving a one-match ban.
His Accrington absence proved pivotal, as a makeshift defence slumped to a 4-1 loss – Pompey’s heaviest league defeat for almost six years.
With the second-placed Tractor Boys visiting on Saturday, Pompey are buoyed by the availability of Burgess, in addition to Oli Hawkins.
With 188 appearances and eight goals since arriving from Peterborough for an undisclosed fee in the summer of 2015, Burgess has proven a reliable Blues performer.
And Jackett continues to be impressed with the input of a player now in his fifth Fratton Park season.
Pompey’s boss said: ‘Christian has been a consistent player down the years for Pompey – and he has in my time here.
‘There have been different partners for different reasons, we’ve not had a lot of major injuries in there but niggling ones, such as a couple to Raggett.
‘Similarly, we have enough experienced players there and competition to try to find the perfect combination. We need the back-four balanced to try to get us the clean sheets we need.
‘With Christian, at QPR and then Blackpool we were tucking him into the right-back slot, before coming back into the centre of defence.
‘He is a very consistent player, a consistent person, and has done well for Pompey.’
Burgess is among 10 players out of contract at the season’s end, while the club have put all talks on potential new deals on hold.
It represents an uncertain future for the defender, who has proven such an excellent recruit by Paul Cook.
During his time at Fratton Park, the former Middlesbrough man has won the League Two title, the Checkatrade Trophy and twice featured in play-off campaigns.
Burgess’ community work has also earned praise, while he has settled into the area, living in old Portsmouth.
Hawkins also missed last weekend’s season-worst performance, with Jackett forced to make four changes at the back.
The converted striker had become a dad after his partner gave birth to a boy last Thursday.
Jackett now has a choice between Burgess, Raggett, Hawkins and the out-of-favour Paul Downing for his two centre-half positions, with Tom Naylor to return to midfield.
And Jackett acknowledged the necessity of a tighter back four for his Pompey gameplan.
He added: ‘We do want a (defensive) unit which is tough.
‘If you are going to, let’s say Rochdale, you get yourself in front and stay there, hitting them on the break as they come onto you so you try to get more.
‘That’s the way it is.’