No guarantee Portsmouth will replace Christian Burgess as Kenny Jackett weighs up his central defensive options

There’s no guarantee Pompey will look to fill the void left by Christian Burgess in the centre of their defence.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 7:00 am
Pompey boss Kenny Jacket. Picture: Max Swatton

That’s after Blues boss Kenny Jackett admitted the three specialists centre-halves he can currently call upon – plus the likes of James Bolton and Tom Naylor – might be enough for the season ahead.

Sean Raggett, Paul Downing and Jack Whatmough are the trio presently at the centre of the manager’s thinking as the clock ticks down on the new campaign.

Raggett – the Blues’ only signing so far this summer – will no doubt be first choice after forming an impressive partnership with Burgess, now at Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, while on loan from Norwich last term.

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But who accompanies him in the back-line is anyone’s guess.

Last season, Downing failed to make a league start since mid-September, as he quickly fell out of favour following a summer move from Blackburn.

Meanwhile, Whatmough’s only appearance in the third tier came against Peterborough just before lockdown because of injury.

Downing started Saturday’s pre-season friendly victory against Norwich under-23s alongside Raggett, which gives an indication of Jackett’s thinking at this moment in time.

The manager will continue to pay close attention to his options as the Blues’ pre-season gather paces against Brighton and then Bristol City, before making a final call.

However, following the introduction of a salary cap, plus senior squads being limited to 22 players, Jackett admitted it may force his hand in the centre-backs department as he looks at other areas of his squad which might need boosting.

The manager said: ‘We shall see (if another centre-back is needed).

‘We have one or two players like James Bolton and Tom Naylor who have played there, so we shall see if three is enough.

‘It’s about balance because with a salary cap then it probably does swing towards players who are under the age of 21 (coming in).

‘We’ll see what pre-season brings in terms of the work and how the players get on.’

Both Bolton and Naylor have operated at times in central defensive roles, ensuring the Blues do have adequate cover in that department.

Any player under the age of 21 does not count towards the 22 senior players Pompey can operate with for the season ahead.

The Blues could look to bring in a player on loan who falls into that bracket to bolster their options in the centre of the back line.

Yet that could prove risky given the importance of the role.

The new season gets under way on September 5 with a Carabao Cup game, before the 2020-21 League One campaign kicks off a week later on September 12.

The transfer window does not close, though, until mid October.