Paul Downing gets Kenny Jackett backing to fill Portsmouth's Christian Burgess gulf

The Fratton faithful could finally see the best of Paul Downing this season.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 5:00 pm

That’s the verdict of Kenny Jackett, who has handed the forgotten man a clean slate and chance to claim the centre-half vacancy.

Christian Burgess has departed and a replacement is yet to be secured, creating a spot alongside Sean Raggett.

That potentially opens the door for Downing, who was in the starting XI at the beginning of last term, only to never feature for Jackett in League One beyond September 2019.

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Downing now has another opportunity to prove his Fratton worth following a difficult maiden campaign.

Jackett told The News: ‘Downing will want to be making an impression this year – and is capable of it.

‘With Burgess obviously moving on, he will be looking to try to get that right-sided slot if he can.

Paul Downing, seen here training with Tom Naylor and Andy Cannon on Monday, is seeking a first-team return. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I think he can take that position. He and Sean are quite an experienced pair, they talk very well and have good attitudes and good experience.

‘Downing has trained hard through an extended period during our build-up to the play-offs and now the last two weeks. He is ready and looking for a chance and opportunity.

‘I am sure when he does get that he’ll take it with both hands. It’s a fresh slate and he will be pushing hard to get into the side.

‘Last year with Burgess and Raggett was a good partnership for me. Centre-back pairings are a big part if you want to go on a good run – and we will be looking to recreate that if we can.’

Raggett and Downing were the partnership at Five Lakes on Saturday.

Jackett made 11 substitutions at the break, with Whatmough and Haji Monga then handed the centre-half roles.

And he believes the home-grown pair are also in contention.

The Blues boss added: ‘Whatmough is somebody I would call quite an experienced player now so, in terms of the centre-backs, we have Raggett, Downing and Whatmough.

‘Tom Naylor has played there, James Bolton has played there, and also young Haji can play there as well as at right-back.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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