Portsmouth boss' verdict on whether Jack Whatmough is ready for return in heat of make-or-break showdown as side battle with Charlton Athletic and Oxford United for final play-off spot
Jack Whatmough has been backed to return at a high level in the cut and thrust of the make-or-break play-off showdown with Accrington.
And Pompey boss, Danny Cowley is adamant he has no reservations about his defender’s discipline in the heat of Sunday’s critical clash at Fratton Park.
Whatmough is set to come back into the Blues’ starting XI, as the curtain comes down on the regular season against John Coleman’s side.
Pompey know only a win is likely to do on the final day as they fight it out against Oxford and Charlton for the final play-off berth, with their destiny in their own hands.
And having a player Cowley rates as one of his best assets to call upon after three weeks out and a four-game ban for his red card at MK Dons, is massive boost.
Cowley said: ‘It’s huge, huge, huge to have him back. Unbelievable.
‘When he got sent off at MK Dons I could have cried.
‘To then find out we were going to lose him for four games was another kick in the proverbials.
‘We’ve missed him. We’ve all missed him - and we are delighted he’s back.
‘He’s been so professional through this period.
‘It hurt him having to come out, but he’s trained really professionally and he’s in a good place to now help the team on Sunday.
‘He’s a top player. He’s a top player in League One, right up there.’
The dismissal at Stadium MK was Whatmough’s second of the season, after his controversial red card against Lincoln in January.
Both decisions were unsuccessfully appealed by Pompey, but after those suspensions it has left questions being asked of Whatmough’s discipline in some quarters.
Cowley was emphatic in his view on the subject, however, and has absolutely no concerns about the Gosport lad going into a game where there is no room for error.
He added: ‘I think Jack is a highly intelligent boy, a very good footballer. I think he learns every day.
‘I have absolutely no concern over his discipline at all - at all.
‘I’ve seen the Lincoln red card and I didn’t think it was a sending off.
‘We all have to understand the rules of the game are what they are, and they are being applied in a different way to how they were applied historically. We have to adapt accordingly.
‘I think it’s a time on Sunday to harness the emotion, play with that energy and intensity - but also the calmness to execute. That’s the fine balance we need to find.’
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