Kenny Jackett's Portsmouth selection dilemma ahead of the FA Cup trip to Harrogate

Kenny Jackett is weighing up whether to hand Brandon Haunstrup another outing in a right-back role at Harrogate.

Sunday, 10th November 2019, 12:00 pm
Brandon Haunstrup. Picture: Robin Jones

The Waterlooville lad replaced Ross McCrorie in the 40th minute of the 4-1 victory over Southend on Tuesday night.

Despite operating on the opposite flank he usually plays on, Haunstrup caught the eye and assisted both John Marquis and Marcus Harness’ goals.

With McCrorie set to be sidelined for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury, Jackett now has to decide who’ll feature on the right-hand side of defence in tomorrow night’s FA Cup first-round tie. 

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James Bolton and Anton Walkes are also challenging for a starting spot at Wetherby Road. 

Bolton was omitted from the Blues’ squad against the Shrimpers for Brett Pitman but could come back into the side. 

Walkes, meanwhile, hasn’t been involved in Pompey’s past six games.

Although they’re both natural right-footers, Jackett reckons Haunstrup can also adeptly play in the position.

The boss said: ‘We loaded the bench more with forwards with Pitman being fit and left James Bolton out.

‘I still did think we had two good defenders on the bench because we had Paul Downing as well and we were covered.

‘Generally, a full-back can play either side. In that particular game, I felt it was the right move to bring on Brandon and he’d have some space.

‘It was nice to see him getting two assists and showed a lot of confidence.

He put the ball in for John when he came from deep and got the key first goal. You could see Brandon’s confidence flourish after that. 

‘There aren’t many left-footers in our squad – only Brandon and Lee Brown.

‘When do you see left-footers playing right-back? Not that often but I still think playing full-back is playing full-back in terms of your angles and passing options.

‘There was a lot of space for Brandon going inside and drive.

‘In recent reserve games, we've used Anton Walkes in midfield and James Bolton has had a number of first-team games at right-back which is his preferred position. Those are my options.’

Haunstrup had a sustained spell in Jackett’s side when Lee Brown suffered an Achilles setback in August.

But when the vice-captain returned to fitness, it meant the academy graduate was dropped to the bench.

Haunstrup recently celebrated his 23rd birthday and will feel he's more than ready to feature week in, week out.

That’s now his challenge and Jackett feels he’s capable of it. 

The manager added: ‘Brandon has been on the fringe of it and will want his big breakthrough when he has a regular place in the team.

‘That is his next challenge and he’s capable of it as he’s just turned 23.

‘As he tells me, he’s been here since the age of seven. He’s certainly worked hard enough and played well on Tuesday, I was pleased with him.’