Portsmouth's message to summer arrival as he finds himself firmly in the cold

Paul Downing has been told his Pompey chance will arrive.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 5:09 pm

And assistant manager Joe Gallen believes the defender has the kind of experience which will yet see him have a big impact on the Blues’ season.

Downing hasn’t played a minute of league football now for 10 weeks, after Kenny Jackett favoured Oli Hawkins at Rochdale on his return from injury.

The 28-year-old looked favourite to be handed an outing after delivering an assured performance when replacing the injured Sean Raggett at Harrogate.

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Downing has now made just 10 starts this season - and six in the league - since being handed a three-year deal when arriving from Blackburn in the summer.

Gallen told the former West Brom man he feels there is an extended run of games to come for him yet.

He said: ‘It was a very close decision over the defenders.

Paul Downing

‘Paul came on at Harrogate and played very steadily, which is what he is.

‘I think overall the manager has gone for Oli on his sheer physical size and the whole strength in both boxes side of things.

‘Paul’s had a promotion with Blackburn and been close with Doncaster.

‘He’s also a very good centre-half and when he gets his chance I think he’ll be very difficult to dislodge once he gets in.

‘It’s Oli’s sheer presence and sheer size, though (which saw him favoured).’

In a season in which there has been plenty of shuffling of personnel at the back, the clean sheet was heralded by Gallen.

Pompey now have a tough test to build on that against a Rotherham side showing powerful away form.

The Millers also possess plenty of fire power with a blend of attacking physicality and pace in the shape of summer target Freddie Ladapo, Carlton Morris, Kyle Vassell and old boy Michael Smith.

Gallen added: ‘It’s very important for us, that. Very important.

‘In terms of conceding we haven’t conceded that many, but clean sheets are very important for us.

‘We have enough in our squad and team to have more than we’ve picked up so far.

‘We have players who can score and create and we now have to look forward to picking up another clean sheet against Rotherham.’