Key defender injury picture as Portsmouth boss puts faith in youthful options

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John Mousinho underlined belief in his youthful left flank as Connor Ogilvie fights for his fitness.

The Pompey boss explained Connor Ogilvie is ‘touch and go’ to be available for Port Vale, as he fights back from a groin issue.

A continued absence for the left-back would mean Jack Sparkes starting his fourth game on the spin at Fratton Park.

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The summer signing from Exeter celebrated his 23rd birthday last week and has been linking up with 20-year-old Abu Kamara, in a youthful Pompey left flank.

Sparkes’ distribution and delivery has been a standout feature as he started the past three games, along with his quality from set-pieces.

The Devon lad has faced some challenges defensively, but Mousinho can see strides being made in that department.

He said: ‘I thought after a tough opening against Lincoln Sparkesy was brilliant at Wigan (on Saturday).

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‘One of the things I said to him after the game was he competed with a winger in (Stephen) Humphrys, who I would say is Championship level.

Pompey defender Jack Sparkes. Picture: Jason Brown.Pompey defender Jack Sparkes. Picture: Jason Brown.
Pompey defender Jack Sparkes. Picture: Jason Brown.

‘His physicality is right up there and Sparkesy properly competed. He had to work and graft.

‘At the other end of the pitch he produces cross after cross, which cause problems.

‘We expect so much of the players.

‘I think Sparkesy is 23 and there are players like Abu who are 20 and on his first run of games in any league.

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Pompey left-sided pair Jack Sparkes and Abu Kamara. Pics: Jason Brown.Pompey left-sided pair Jack Sparkes and Abu Kamara. Pics: Jason Brown.
Pompey left-sided pair Jack Sparkes and Abu Kamara. Pics: Jason Brown.

‘It’s a really young side (of the pitch) which is really performing well in difficult circumstances.

‘If you look at Abu, he’s gone from Leyton Orient away (where he struggled) to now. At Wigan we didn’t sub him until 84 minutes because he was looking slightly tired.

‘It’s a really good combination down that side.’

Ogilvie has been sidelined since his goal helped Pompey to an impressive 3-2 success at Barnsley last month.

It’s a position the 27-year-old hasn’t found himself in too often, but adds to raft of injury and suspension problems going into the Port Vale game.

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Alex Robertson and Regan Poole both serve one-game bans on Saturday for picking up five yellow cards, while Marlon Pack, Kusini Yengi, Anthony Scully, Tom Lowery and Josh Dockerill are all injured with Ogilvie.

Mousinho added: ‘Connor’s okay. He wasn’t back for Tuesday and is touch and go for Saturday.

‘It’s just that groin strain he picked up at Barnsley.

‘It’s one of those which has not recovered quickly. They don’t, to be fair.

‘Connor is one of those who is a good athlete who will recover as quickly as he can.

‘It’s one of those unfortunate things.’

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