Portsmouth boss hoping for right-back boost to lift team at Northampton

Kenny Jackett will leave it late to resolve his right-back dilemma.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 6:00 am
James Bolton is rated at 50/50 for Northampton as Kenny Jackett seeks to resolve Pompey's right-back problems. Picture: Joe Pepler

Both Haji Mnoga and Jack Whatmough have occupied the role in the injury absence of Callum Johnson.

Jackett, however, could be boosted by the return of James Bolton for Saturday’s trip to struggling Northampton.

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Bolton yesterday returned to training following ankle ligament damage – and is regarded as 50/50 to make the Sixfields Stadium encounter.

Pompey will take another look at the versatile defender in training this morning before finalising their line-up for a must-win match.

And Jackett is keen to have the former Shrewsbury man back in his squad.

The Blues boss told The News: ‘We are hopeful that James will be okay for Saturday.

‘He trained yesterday and will need to train again this morning before we make a decision on Northampton.

‘It’s 50/50 at the moment – and a lot better than it was. We will have to see. If it’s not Northampton, then it will be Tuesday against Sunderland.

‘We’ve had two specialist right-backs missing and that happens during the course of a season, your squad has to get on with it and it has been a good opportunity for Haji Mnoga.

‘I think he shows fantastic potential. He was really unlucky with Doncaster’s first goal, he had it and unfortunately misjudged the roll of the ball.

‘Haji was unlucky not to make up for it at the other end, with what I thought was a very strong penalty appeal.

‘I thought going forward he brings a lot. Defensively sometimes he needs to get used to the level, which he is capable of.

‘It’s difficult for younger players at the moment and he has worked very hard in training. These games will do him a lot of good.

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‘Jack (Whatmough) is definitely an option too. He’s a right-sided defender and experienced player. He will never let you down and gives everything he’s got.

‘I am optimistic for James somewhere down the line, he’s not far away. It’s just when and at what stage he can handle the pain.

‘I trust him to make the right decision. He has a chance for Saturday – I will find out this morning.’

Meanwhile, Michael Jacobs has also emerged from his injury problems to be considered for Northampton.

He has been back in training for more than a week following a hamstring issue.

And Jackett is considering recalling the winger to his squad for the encounter with the relegation-threatened Cobblers.

He added: ‘Michael looked good yesterday morning and we are hoping he has no more problems.

‘With a hamstring injury, you want to make sure you are very thorough in the comeback and the amount of training he participates in to build up his confidence in the load.’

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