Rival’s return poses Portsmouth selection threat to Walkes

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Anton Walkes is determined to fend off his fit-again right-back rival to retain a Pompey spot.

Nathan Thompson yesterday came through a behind-closed-doors fixture with Swindon at the Blues’ training ground.

Anton Walkes has performed well deputising at right-back

Anton Walkes has performed well deputising at right-back

The reserve side triumphed 3-1, with goals from Ben Close, David Wheeler and Dan Smith.

It represented Thompson’s first outing since injuring his left knee in the opening match of the season against Luton.

In his absence, Walkes has switched from the centre of midfield to deputise at right-back for the past five matches.

Yet competition has emerged in the form of Thompson as Kenny Jackett focuses on Saturday’s visit of Plymouth.

Walkes said: ‘Nathan is training again and we’ll see what happens after that.

‘Everyone is a rival here, we are all competing and we all want the same thing.

‘No matter what it is, as long as we are supporting each other and pushing each other on – that is the main thing. For me, it has been a steady start, not as good as I would have liked and expected from myself.

‘But when you look at it we keep winning games.

‘And hopefully I can remain in the side.’

During pre-season, Walkes had featured in midfield alongside Tom Naylor as Jackett rolled out a 4-4-2 formation.

That remained the case for the curtain-raiser against Luton – until the injured Thompson was withdrawn on 71 minutes.

Walkes dropped to right-back as a stand in, remaining there for the subsequent five matches as Pompey produced a superb start to the campaign.

The former Spurs man’s versatility is well regarded at Fratton Park, presenting no issue when employing him in defence.

He has been part of a Blues defensive unit which has received tough examinations against Luton, Bristol Rovers and Doncaster in particular, yet the team remain undefeated in league competition.

Walkes acknowledges it has been difficult for him at times serving in the right-back position.

But he continues to give his best for Jackett’s men.

He added: ‘I just take it as it is, it has been tough so far to say the least, but we are getting results and that’s all that matters.

‘It has been tough as a team and also individually, tough players to play against – and I’m enjoying every moment.

‘It’s not always easy to change going back to right-back, but very enjoyable.’