The intriguing Portsmouth battle between youth and experience as ex-Arsenal and Preston men gear up for first-team fight

Zak Swanson wants to learn from Joe Rafferty – yet is targeting his right-back rival’s Pompey starting spot.

By Pepe Lacey
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:55 am

The 21-year-old arrived at Fratton Park in July, after coming through the ranks at the Emirates Stadium, where he was highly regarded.

However, he was overlooked by Danny Cowley for Rafferty in Pompey’s 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday in last Saturday’s season opener.

Clearly the experienced former Preston full-back is first choice in the role at present, leaving Swanson to bide his time for regular first-team football.

He is likely to be handed his chance at Cardiff in the Carabao Cup on August 9, with Cowley expected to rotate his side for the trip.

Regardless, Swanson is relishing the challenge of permanently dislodging his fellow summer arrival.

He told The News: ‘Joe is a top professional and he’s helped me since he’s come in.

‘He’s played a lot of games in the Championship and in League One so it’s really helpful for me to learn from someone like that. I can't wait for the challenge.

Zak Swanson has admitted the competition between himself and Joe Rafferty will benefit him long-term.

‘It’ll be good competition and there’s competition in every team and in every position so it’s something worth having and it’ll be good for me.

‘He’s been helping me with my game defensively and where I can improve so it’s been good to have him here.’

Swanson arrived on the south coast without a Football League appearance – and was an unused substitute at Hillsborough.

And the youngster admits he wants to play as big a role as possible in a Pompey promotion chase.

He continued: ‘I want to play in every game but I have to respect the manager’s decision, have to get on with that and if that’s not to start and just to come on and affect the game then that’s what it’ll be.

‘I’ll help Joe if he starts and if I start I'm sure he’ll help me.

‘My aim, of course, is to play as many games as possible because it's a good experience.

‘Obviously with the club we want to go up, promotion is our aim and we want to do well in this league.’