Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett confident former Tottenham Hotspur man Anton Walkes yet to peak

Kenny Jackett is certain Anton Walkes is only going to keep improving.

Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 12:08 pm

The former Tottenham man is in the frame to retain his starting spot for Pompey’s League One play-off semi-final second leg against Sunderland tomorrow, with doubts remaining over Lee Brown’s fitness.

Walkes surprisingly featured from the outset in the 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

He acted as a makeshift left-back, with Brown (Achilles), Brandon Haunstrup (knee ligaments) and Dion Donohue (groin) all injured.

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Capable of also operating in right-back, centre-back and holding-midfield roles, Jackett heaped praise of Walkes' versatility.

And the Blues boss feels the ex-Atlanta loanee is yet to hit his peak.

The Blues boss said: ‘In terms of Anton, he is a variable player.

‘He’s mainly played right-back for us but can play holding midfield, centre-back and left-back.

Anton Walkes

‘He’s a variable player and will never let you down wherever he players.

‘Anton did fine at Sunderland. He’d played against Accrington when we’d left Nathan out so it was his second game.

‘Maybe he’s slightly frustrated with Thompson’s form in Anton’s preferred position but he’s never let us down.

‘He’s a good age and is only going to keep improving. Anton has got a good attitude, a good athlete and will give you everything in whatever position he plays.’

Although Jackett was impressed with Walkes’ defensive duties, he pinpointed there was an imbalance down the left flank at the Stadium of Light.

With the 22-year-old and Ronan Curtis being right-footed, the boss felt there was a lack of fluency on that side of the pitch.

Pompey are hoping Brown will successfully come through training today to feature against the Black Cats at Fratton Park.

But in case the former Bristol Rovers isn’t fit, Jackett revealed the Blues have been working on upping their threat from the left during training.

He added: ‘We were practising it on Tuesday, working with the players who might be out there on Thursday.

‘We were looking at them putting the ball in at the right time with their left foot, but also cutting it back and still being effective – whether that be an inswinging cross or playing yourself off the front man and going again.

‘I don’t mind coming back out but I don't like coming back out then going nowhere and the move peters out.

‘Once you work into those positions, you need it to flow a little bit.

‘Anton is a good athlete and can do it. He scored a great goal at Fleetwood with his left foot in December – that’s what I’ve told him.’