Benched Paul Downing still has Portsmouth part to play - Kenny Jackett
Paul Downing still has a part to play at Pompey.
That’s the message from Kenny Jackett as the heralded summer signing continues to serve as a peripheral figure.
A League One promotion winner with Blackburn in 2017-18, the centre-half has not featured in the Blues’ past seven league matches.
Jackett has revealed Downing is currently working on the training ground with a view to improving his distribution to the strikers.
And he insists the 28-year-old can still force his way back into Pompey’s side.
The Blues boss said: ‘Downing is fine. Like every player out of the team he is not happy he is sub, but my choice has been to try to settle down both Burgess and Raggett into the centre-back positions.
‘He needs to keep working hard and be patient. Everybody out of the team must be ready when they get their chance because it’s always around the corner for different reasons.
‘I think Downing did well at the start of the season, he had some good games and can build on that when called upon.
‘He’s maybe a little bit too similar to Burgess. In terms of a number one centre-half, perhaps Sean is a bit stronger in the air than probably the other two.
‘Paul can play with either of them – and has had certain games with Burgess. They have looked fine, as well.
‘He is not one to throw his toys out of the pram, he has been professional, backed the players, and worked hard in training.
‘It is frustrating when you are out of the 18 and nowhere near the match-day squad for a while, that’s pretty tough. Where we are now, though, it has been quite a natural 18 or 19, so they are either in the team or one step away.
‘If over a long period of time you aren’t in the match-day squad, you can lose your focus.’
Downing was left out of the 18-man squad against Bolton in September.
However, he has since been an unused substitute in each of the last five League One outings.
Jackett added: ‘We’ve worked on all aspects of centre-half play with him.
‘Last Thursday morning we specifically worked on the ball down and delivery forward to the front men.
‘I wouldn’t say it has been a big weakness, but it is where I feel that, at the right time, service into the front men is something he is capable of – and we have worked on it.’