‘Extremely fortunate’: How Arsenal signing fought back from adversity to silence fearsome attacking force with Portsmouth defensive partner

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Zak Swanson has been lauded for showing the resilience to fight back from a season of pain to crucially aid Pompey’s Championship charge.

And Blues boss John Mousinho has admitted he feels ‘extremely fortunate’ to be able to call on the likes of the former Arsenal defender and Jack Sparkes, after they returned to the starting XI and silenced Peterborough’s attacking riches.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Swanson came into the starting line-up at short notice in the promotion showdown at London Road last weekend, as illness sidelined Joe Rafferty and Paddy Lane.

Yet, Mousinho’s side became the first to keep out Darren Ferguson’s side at home in the league this season, with the 1-0 triumph taking Pompey a big step closer to the Championship with seven games remaining.

Swanson’s performance against arguably the division’s most highly rated attacker in £3.5m man Ephron Mason-Clark, was made all the more impressive with it the 23-year-old first start in three months.

The right-back underwent a second groin operation in December, in a season where he’s had to deal with personal tragedy after the loss of his mother to cancer last September.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, Sparkes had started one game since mid January before Peterborough - and came off in that meeting at Blackpool with an ankle injury, which kept him out of the Burton win last week.

Mousinho said: ‘We had to tell Jack and Zak they were starting.

‘It was a reflection of how strong our squad is and how much faith we have in these players. To be honest, they were two of the best players on the pitch against Peterborough.

‘We do want to press high and it leaves your full-backs one v one with your wingers a lot of the time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘I thought they were both outstanding. You look at moments (in the Peterborough game) where both wingers were getting at the full-backs.

‘They’re one v one and really dangerous going into the box. I thought they both handled that really well and gave us a lot in possession.

‘Jack’s had that ankle injury he picked up against Blackpool, so for him to come in on late notice - I felt he kept Poku incredibly quiet, so I was really pleased with him.

‘Zak had the surgery after the Wimbledon game and now come back into things.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘Zak’s not had the easiest of seasons for various reasons, but we think we’re extremely fortunate with the full-backs we have in the building.

‘For him to come back in on such short notice, make his first start and get through 90 minutes without looking like he was tiring or blowing up was brilliant.’

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.