No injury returns and no fresh arrivals - Portsmouth's worrying centre-half shortage continues

Pompey have just two centre-halves available for Saturday’s Fratton Park homecoming.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 1:00 pm
Central defender Paul Downing remains on the sidelines for Pompey's forthcoming friendly against Peterborough. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/ProSportsImages

Paul Downing remains sidelined with the hamstring strain which has ruled him out of the Blues’ last four friendlies.

And that leaves Clark Robertson and Sean Raggett as their only fit contracted central defenders for the visit of Peterborough.

The versatile Haji Mnoga deputised in the role in Tuesday’s defeat at Chelsea under-23s, alongside a triallist who operated on the left of the partnership.

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As for Downing, Cowley remains optimistic he can be ready for next week’s friendly at Bournemouth under-21s.

But not for the return of the Fratton faithful in Saturday’s fixture against Championship Posh.

Cowley told The News: ‘Paul’s rehab is moving in the right direction, he is back out on the grass and running. We are hopeful he will be involved in the very near future.

‘Peterborough is potentially too soon. We have Bournemouth next Tuesday, which I call a mop-up game, so if anyone has been short of minutes, it will allow us to get some good minutes into them.

‘It can happen, can’t it. It’s almost impossible to come through a pre-season without any injuries.

‘It’s the competitive nature of it. If you do come through with no injuries it’s probably because you have undercooked the group.

‘We do push them physically, although we are cautious with this group because obviously we are so small in number.

‘It’s not ideal, but this is where we are at the moment.’

Mnoga remains an option against Peterborough as central-defensive cover and impressed Cowley against Chelsea.

This season he has featured at right-back, centre midfielder – and now centre-half.

Cowley added: ‘Haji did just great against Chelsea, I thought he was excellent.

‘He came out with some real credit. He has pace, power and strength and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a young Chelsea team, that’s for sure.

‘We are just trying to find the right pathway for Haji. We are absolutely committed to the player, we know he has a huge future with us and want to find the right pathway for him.

‘We are absolutely committed to doing that. If that means we have to make an unselfish decision for the betterment of him and his development then we will do that.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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