James Bolton backed to become Portsmouth's new Nathan Thompson

James Bolton has been backed to become Pompey’s new Nathan Thompson.

Sunday, 23rd June 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 23rd June 2019, 8:48 pm

Assistant-manager Joe Gallen believes the Blues’ first arrival of the summer can seamlessly slot into the right-back role during next season’s League One promotion push.

Bolton moved to Fratton Park on a free transfer earlier this month following his departure from Shrewsbury.

That affectively spells the end of Thompson’s Pompey career.

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He's still to sign a new deal after shelving talks in February and is expected to move elsewhere when his contract expires on June 30.

Joining from Swindon in 2017, the defender was a ever-consistent performer during his two years on the south coast.

He made 78 apperances, with his only goal the equaliser in the Checkatrade Trophy final triumph over Sunderland.

Certainly Bolton has big boots to fill at the Blues.

But Gallen believes the 24-year-old has the quality to adequetely replace Thompson.

He said: ‘Nathan was an excellent signing for us. He was a very, very consistent player for us.

‘But we feel James can turn into a new Nathan Thompson.

‘They’re not very different at all. Nathan was a very good player, very good to have around and very reliable.

‘In James, I think we’ve found something similar.

‘We’ve watched James over the years – I saw him play for Gateshead against Dagenham & Redbridge when we were watching Oli Hawkins.

‘We started to notice him again when we’ve played against Shrewsbury over the past two seasons.

‘We think he’s solid, is a good defender, dependable and good going forward. There’s some development in there and we can coach him along and help him.

‘We feel he has the level of performance to come to play for Portsmouth.’

Bolton’s chief remit will be to improve Pompey’s defensive record.

The Blues conceded 51 goals in the league last season – only the sixth best as they suffered play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland.

While the ex-Stoke City youth player won’t be restricted to foray forward, his rearguard responsibilities must come first.

And Gallen feels Bolton is capable of doing so.

He added: ‘What we really want is for him to be part of a back four that keeps more clean sheets than last season.

‘Our back four was very stable but in terms of keeping clean sheets, we weren’t in the top six but were second-top scorers.

‘The whole team has to attack and the whole team has to defend – I understand that.

‘But, ultimately, we’re looking for defenders to help keep clean sheets and we want to be better than last season.

‘The job of a right-back in possession when the ball is down his side is to get up the pitch, distribute and put in some crosses.

‘As a back four, we’re looking for clean sheets first and offensive after that.’