Portsmouth will prioritise signing a centre-back in summer – irrespective of Matt Clarke’s future

Matt Clarke is likely to leave Pompey this summer. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke is likely to leave Pompey this summer. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Kenny Jackett revealed a centre-back will be high up on his summer shopping list.

And that’s regardless of whether Matt Clarke departs Fratton Park or not. 

Pompey currently have three senior central defenders in Clarke, Christian Burgess and Jack Whatmough.

Matt Casey is also on the books, but he's made just three first-team appearances – all coming in the Checkatrade Trophy. 

The season-ending injury picked up by Whatmough in February means he won’t be fit until the start of next year. 

As a result, Jackett won’t take the academy graduate into account when he’s planning his squad for the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Blues are also likely to lose prized-asset Clarke, after being defeated by Sunderland in the League One play-offs.

The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season refused to commit his future to the club after Pompey missed out on promotion. 

But even in the improbable scenario Clarke remains at the Blues, recruiting a centre-half will still be one of Jackett’s priorities this summer.

The Pompey manager said: ‘I would think so (a centre-back being high on his shopping list).

‘At the moment, we have to centre-halves in Burgess and Clarke.

‘Anton Walkes and Tom Naylor can play there and those are our options.

‘Yes, we have young Matt Casey. In his Checkatrade Trophy and under-23 games this season he has made good progress.

‘But if you're saying in terms of squad planning then we do need another centre-half.

‘I’d be happy with three and then Casey as a young one.

‘I think Jack will be there from January and onwards.

‘But whether it be a loan deal of whatever then I don’t think that we can plan with him – for the start of the season anyway.

‘If he comes in halfway through then that would be great.

‘Squad planning during the summer will be without him at the moment and if Jack comes into it later on then that would be great.’

Pompey have been linked with several centre-backs in recent weeks.

Jordan Willis has left Coventry as a free agent, although he’s expressed his desire to play in the Championship.

Plymouth’s Ryan Edwards has yet to sign a new deal Home Park, while Oldham’s George Edmundson is another name to be mentioned.