Kenny Jackett: We never wanted Conor Chaplin to leave Portsmouth - but good luck to him at Barnsley

Kenny Jackett surveyed Conor Chaplin’s homecoming and reiterated: We didn’t want him to leave.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 5:24 pm

The Barnsley striker returns to Fratton Park in the FA Cup on Saturday having established himself as a Championship-calibre performer.

Chaplin has netted 10 times for the Tykes this season, including a maiden career hat-trick, while scooped the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for December.

It was August 2018 when the academy graduate quit Pompey for Coventry, following 122 appearances and 25 goals.

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Chaplin’s determination to seek regular first-team football elsewhere drove his departure – with Jackett adamant the Blues fought for him to stay.

Pompey’s boss said: ‘I certainly didn’t want to let Conor go, 100 per cent. Obviously he wanted to move on and Coventry were there for him – and the money was there.

‘It wasn’t necessarily our choice within the club, but he wanted to go to pastures new and Coventry were there at the time.

‘He felt it was the right move for him, to be fair. The questions were did he have enough game time and did he fit into the system? He’s had an upturn and so have Barnsley.

Conor Chaplin returns to Fratton Park with Barnsley in the FA Cup on Saturday. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘Considering his age, it wasn't one we were trying to let go necessarily, we were waiting for him to come on, but that wasn't the situation. Conor was always honest and that is all you ask.

‘There was no changing his mind. Coventry were there and he wanted to move on. Since then he moved on pretty quickly from Cov as well, to now scoring goals in the Championship.

‘You never know, sometimes you do need a different environment than maybe the one you were brought up in.

‘For Conor it wasn’t the next club, it’s the club after that, and everybody at Pompey will be pleased for him. Nobody will want him to score on Saturday, but with anybody who leaves, you would want them to do well.

Conor Chaplin has scored 10 goals - nine in the Championship - since moving to Barnsley in the summer. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images

‘He felt he needed to leave, Coventry were there, and it was a decision at the time to take the money.’

Chaplin scored eight goals in 32 games at Coventry before being sold to newly-promoted Barnsley last summer.

The Tykes had also been interested in the striker when at Pompey, but the Blues preferred to deal with the Sky Blues, who were not considered promotion rivals.

Now Barnsley have their man – and he is spearheading their battling against relegation.

He added: ‘They lost against Preston in the week but for the last couple of months have had some very good games, some great results.

‘They have Conor, Cauley Woodrow and Jacob Brown, very good attacking players, and that has shown in Barnsley’s recent form.’