Portsmouth legend admits lack of natural striker hurt Blues against Burton
Guy Whittingham said Pompey’s lack of options up front were laid bare against Burton.
Once again, the Blues were without their three specialist strikers.
Top-scorer John Marquis was serving the final match of his three-game ban, while Ellis Harrison and Jordy Hiwula are out for rest of the season.
That meant left-winger Ronan Curtis was once again asked to deputise up top.
Yet the Republic of Ireland international struggled against a well-drilled Brewers defence.
And when he was offered the opportunity to make his mark, he spurned his chance when slicing a volley from eight yards over the bar.
The knee operation that will likely keep Michael Jacobs out for the rest of the campaign adds to Pompey’s offensive problems.
That was announced after the final whistle yesterday, with the forward not in the match-day squad after picking up the injury at Wigan on Monday.
But according to Pompey striking legend Whittingham, the issue Danny Cowley has in the forward department was there for all to see as the Blues went down 2-1 against Burton.
He said the hosts missed a natural front man who knew exactly how to deal with such a tight defensive unit.
Whittingham told BBC Radio Solent: ‘When the defence is well organised like that, you need somebody with the craft that knows how to pick up chances in those tight areas, knows where the ball’s going to drop.
‘(Burton goalscorer) Mike Fondop was on the floor and the ball dropped to him, so he found himself in the right place at the right time and that’s what strikers tend to do.
‘Without a natural one, Curtis, you know, when the ball was up in the final third, he’s not a natural striker so he doesn’t find himself in those positions where chances happen.’
Whittingham added Jacobs’ injury represented another concern amid an already limited pool of attacking players.
‘Yes it is (a blow) – it’s another attacking player out for the season,’ he said.
‘I think we’re seeing what’s happening with the season, the amount of games teams are having to play in close proximity.’
Head coach Cowley named youngster Alfie Stanley among in his substitutes for the Burton game but will not want to rely on the academy product as Pompey head into their final seven games of the season with a play-off place at stake.