Kenny Jackett's verdict on James Bolton's fitness and if he's ready to feature for Portsmouth in League One

James Bolton. Picture: Joe Pepler
James Bolton. Picture: Joe Pepler
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James Bolton is ‘100-per-cent ready’ to challenge for a League One starting spot.

Kenny Jackett insists the right-back is up to speed following his early-season setbacks. 

Bolton arrived at Pompey on a free transfer from Shrewsbury this summer and signed a three-year deal.

However, a groin injury in pre-season followed by an ankle problem he suffered in the curtain-raiser defeat at his former club has hampered the opening to his Blues career.

But Bolton featured for 90 minutes in both Leasing.com Trophy victories over Crawley and Norwich under-21s. 

The ex-Gateshead defender was an unused substitute for the 2-2 draw with Burton on Tuesday, with Christian Burgess continuing on the right-hand side of defence. 

But Burgess' attacking deficiencies were exposed in the makeshift role against the Brewers and was required to do too much with the ball.

Pompey are desperately seeking just a second league win at Wycombe on Saturday.

And Bolton is in the frame to feature from the outset.

Blues boss Jackett said: ‘I do think he is ready and has to be pushing Christian Burgess for that right-back slot. 

‘His performances have been fine. He has been a bit stop-start but was fine on Saturday.

‘He has had two good seasons at right-back in this division – one of those he got to the play-off final.

‘James is 25 and quite an experienced player. He knows what League One is about, which is a good thing, and 100 per cent is ready to go.

‘He’s an experienced player at this level and played right wing-back for Shrewsbury last season.

‘I’d want both things out of him (attacking and defending). James can do a little bit of both.’

Anton Walkes is also an option for Pompey at right-back, although he’s also capable of functioning in central midfield. 

Jackett added: ‘Walkes as well is competing for the place, although I used him in midfield coming on at Blackpool where he did well and against Norwich.

‘He’s been a utility player for us, mainly at right-back when Nathan Thompson was injured last season, but can fill in if we get injuries in midfield.

‘He also played left-back in the play-offs at Sunderland as well and didn’t let us down.’