Stepping into Kenny Jackett's shoes: five right-backs Portsmouth should consider if Nathan Thompson departs

Kenny Jackett has admitted Pompey have drawn up a contingency plan should Nathan Thompson depart.

By Will Rooney
Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 3:18 pm
Accrington right-back Callum Johnson. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Accrington right-back Callum Johnson. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The tough-tackling right-back is out of contract at the end of June and currently reviewing his options.

Keen to test himself in the Championship, the opportunity to experience that with the Blues was ended through League One play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland last week.

Although Jackett wants Thompson to remain at Fratton Park, he’s aware that may not be the case.

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Pompey are actively seeking another full-back to compete with Anton Walkes next season.

With that in mind, we’ve stepped into the boss’ shoes and picked out five players who should be on the Blues’ shopping list...



Accrington right-back Callum Johnson. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

1. Callum Johnson

The 22-year-old enjoyed a fine season for Accrington Stanley.

Johnson made 45 appearances in all competitions for John Coleman’s side but an ankle injury ended his campaign prematurely. 

The former Middlesbrough full-back impressed during Pompey’s 1-1 draw at the Wham Stadium in October, nullifying the threat of Ronan Curtis.

Fleetwood's Lewie Coyle battles Leicester's Demarai Gray for the ball during the FA Cup tie. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

According to stats-based website Wyscout, Johnson won more defensive duels (481) than any other player in the third tier this term. 

He’s also a threat going forward, whipping in 171 crosses – the sixth highest in the division.

Preston were keen to sign Johnson in January but Accrington turned down a bid reportedly in excess of £300,000.

The Yarm-born man has a year left on Stanley deal and the Blues would have to pay a fee for his services. 


2. Lewie Coyle

Like many players arriving back at their parent club this summer, Coyle will have a decision to make.

The 23-year-old has one year left on his deal at Leeds and needs to weigh up whether he’ll feature during their Championship promotion push next season or seek regular football elsewhere.

Coyle has spent the past two campaigns on loan at Fleetwood and featured 93 times in total. 

Boss Joey Barton would likely want to bring the defender back to the Highbury Stadium, but the carrot of moving to a side who'll be challenging for automatic promotion would be a significant pull in negotiations. 

Coyle came out on top  356 of his defensive battles this term and can also operate at centre-back and in central midfield. 


3. Conor McLaughlin

If Thompson does leave the south coast, Jackett may want someone with age and experience on his side to replace him.

McLaughlin ticks both those boxes at 27 and with more than 200 Football League appearances under his belt.

The Belfast-born man has been released by Millwall after making 13 outings this term.

Before moving to the Den, he spent five seasons at Fleetwood and helped them win promotion to League One via the play-offs in 2014 – along with Pompey’s Gareth Evans.

McLaughlin has also been capped 34 times for Northern Ireland.


4. Perry Ng

If Pompey decided to survey League Two then Ng could be on their radar.

The 23-year-old has spent his entire career at Crewe Alexandra, graduating through their academy in 2014.

The Liverpool-born talent made 49 appearances for the Railwaymen this season and scooped both player and players’ player of the year awards.

He won 419 of his defensive duels, placing him sixth in the fourth tier and recorded five assists.

With Crewe’s business model to hone players and move them on for profit, Ng is certainly a player who fits that model. 

The former Hyde loanee has two years left on his deal at Gresty Road.


5. Stephen O'Donnell

Jackett may scan what's available north of the border. If that’s the case, O’Donnell’s name would likely crop up. 

Released by Luton in 2017, he moved to Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock on a free transfer and signed a three-year contract.

O'Donnell has enjoyed a fine spell at Rugby Park and been first choice right-back. 

This season he featured 48 times and played a key role as Killie finished third in the table.

The former Partick Thistle man has won seven caps for Scotland, and, aged 27, he’d offer Pompey the experience they’d miss should Thompson leave.