Portsmouth transfer news: John Mousinho addresses defender's future following latest league disappointment and reported summer interest from Gillingham

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‘Sean being here at the moment makes us much stronger’ – that’s the standpoint Pompey boss John Mousinho has taken after being asked about Sean Raggett’s Fratton Park future.

The Blues cult hero has had to come to terms with being a squad player this season, after four previous PO4 campaigns operating as a first-team starter and one of the first names on the team sheet.

The summer arrival of Regan Poole on a free transfer from Lincoln has seen the 30-year-old slip down the pecking order for that right-sided central-defensive berth.

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Meanwhile, the chances of the former Norwich reverting back to a familiar left-sided role have diminished following the January signing of Ryley Towler and the recent snapping up of former Burton man Conor Shaughnessy on a free transfer.

Shaughnessy started alongside Poole in the centre of defence for Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Exeter. It was a similar tale for last Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road, with Raggett having to make do with cameo appearances from the bench in both games.

So far this season, the 2021-22 Pompey player of the year’s only start has come in the Carabao Cup – against Forest Green Rovers.

That contrasts greatly with previous seasons, with the no-nonsense defender racking up 198 appearances for the club since his initial arrival on loan in 2019.

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In July, Raggett was linked with a move to hometown club Gillingham, who are considered one of the favourites for promotion from League Two this season.

Sean Raggett's two League One outings this season have come from the benchSean Raggett's two League One outings this season have come from the bench
Sean Raggett's two League One outings this season have come from the bench

Such talk was quickly dismissed by Mousinho. But four games into the new campaign – and with Raggett yet to start in the league – the experienced campaigner’s future is back in the spotlight.

When asked by The News what would he do if serious interest emerged in the centre-half between now and the transfer window closing on September 1, Mousinho replied: ‘In terms of where we are with Sean, Sean being here at the moment makes us much stronger and he’s probably one of the ones who has been unlucky not to have started more games.

‘The performance of the back four in the league games so far has been excellent and I thought Sean and Conor (Shaughnessy) were very, very good against Forest Green as well.

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‘It’s really tight and tough to call, and we left Ryley Towler out of the last two squads, which tells you everything you need to know about the strength in depth that we have, or that we think we have, because I think Ryley is a 100-per-cent starter at this level.

‘So, at the moment, I think we’re much stronger with Sean in the squad challenging for a first-team spot.

‘We’ve got a very, very long season, we’re only three league games in and a lot can change between now and the weekend, let alone now and Christmas.’

The Blues’ next league game is on Saturday, when they play host to Cheltenham. Another game follows on Tuesday, with Papa John’s Trophy opponents Fulham Under-21s the visitors to Fratton Park – a game Raggett will likely start.