The Insider: Portsmouth would get a bargain if they snapped up Bristol Rovers’ Tom Lockyer

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The Bristol Post’s chief sports writer, John Evely, gives his verdict on Pompey target Tom Lockyer, who will leave Bristol Rovers this summer...

I am absolutely shocked that Rovers let themselves get into a situation where Tom Lockyer has departed on a free.

In the current market, I would have said his value is worth £750,000 – so whoever gets him will have themselves a bargain.

Lockyer recently admitted he should have left a couple of years ago, but stayed a bit too long.

He is a Welsh international with ambitions of playing at a higher level, which may count against Pompey.

READ MORE: Pompey receive boost from Nottingham Forest in their pursuit of Lockyer

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:Tom Lockyer of Bristol Rovers beats Josh Parker of Gillingham to the ball during the Sky Bet League One match between Bristol Rovers and Gillingham at the Memorial Stadium on November 27, 2018 in Bristol, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:Tom Lockyer of Bristol Rovers beats Josh Parker of Gillingham to the ball during the Sky Bet League One match between Bristol Rovers and Gillingham at the Memorial Stadium on November 27, 2018 in Bristol, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

This is a defender who came through the youth system and was handed the captaincy at a very young age.

You will struggle to find a player at the age of 24 who has played more games at this level, totalling 284 appearances, and he’s getting better.

I can understand Championship clubs looking at him – in addition to Pompey – and think he can do a job at that standard. I suppose we won’t know for sure until he tests himself.

Lockyer is quick, decent if not exceptional in the air, very good on the ball and this season visibly has become physically stronger. He returned last summer bigger, which has helped him.

There are also those leadership qualities which have earned him the Rovers captaincy.

When I watch them train, he is incredibly demanding, with high standards. Should a goal be conceded he takes it as seriously as if it occurred in a first-team game. He hates letting in goals.

Lockyer may not necessarily be an inspirational speaker, but he’s extremely vocal on the pitch and will front up to the media openly and honestly following defeat.

READ MORE: The 17 former Pompey players who have been released by their clubs and are now out of contract

The fact he has appeared five times for Wales is a big part of why he wants to move on from Rovers, being the only one in their international squad featuring at League One level domestically.

Despite finishing 15th, just four sides had a better defensive record that Graham Coughlan’s team this season, reflecting Lockyer’s importance to the club.

The defence isn’t the issue, it’s the other end where problems exist, to the point he was top scorer until November!

Consistently, over a number of years, Lockyer has been the best player in Rovers’ side, although Jonson Clarke-Harris has been pretty special since arriving in January.

It will be interesting to see where – and at what level – he ends up.