The selection headache and casualties Portsmouth's transfer business brings

From left: Charlie Daniels, Harvey White and George ByersFrom left: Charlie Daniels, Harvey White and George Byers
From left: Charlie Daniels, Harvey White and George Byers
‘We’ve got a healthy squad, a good squad,’ said Pompey coach Joe Gallen when asked about Jordy Hiwula’s absence against Hull on Saturday.

‘But there will be some disappointed players tomorrow night not in the starting line-up or not on the bench,’ he added, as he looked ahead to tonight’s visit of Lincoln to Fratton Park.

It’s a problem we’re told all managers crave – a fit and strong squad to provide a selection headache on a match day.

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And Gallen is right, there is definitely going to be a few disappointed faces when the starting XI and subs are named for the game against the second-placed Imps.

The Blues’ incomings in the current transfer window will make sure of that.

Left-back Charlie Daniels and midfield duo Harvey White and George Byers have been added to provide much-needed competition in those areas and to give the manager plenty of options with 24 important league games remaining.

It’s doubtful whether any of the three will start against the Imps tonight, with Byers and Daniels short of match practice of late, while it would be harsh to replace White for Andy Cannon in the team – despite the latter making way for the Spurs youngster in the past two games.

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But all three could be present on the bench, ensuring those currently in front of them are peering over their shoulders, while leaving those not even involved twiddling their thumbs in the stands.

How Pompey would have to line in a 4-2-3-1 formationHow Pompey would have to line in a 4-2-3-1 formation
How Pompey would have to line in a 4-2-3-1 formation

Hopefully, Pompey will benefit from a rich pool of resources. Competition, after all, should improve performances. And levels need to be maintained with half of the season still to be played.

But how does Jackett fit them all in – particularly with an abundance of midfield options now at his disposal?

And who are the casualties if he decides all three should start a game?

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Here, we look at the possibilities and who could be those left disappointed.

How Pompey would look in a 4-4-2 formationHow Pompey would look in a 4-4-2 formation
How Pompey would look in a 4-4-2 formation

Left sitting in the stands

You can never predict with 100 per cent confidence what a manager is going to do on an individual match day.

Take Saturday, for example, and the omission of Jordy Hiwula from the bench for the visit of Hull.

Many expected him to take his usual place among the substitutes.

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How Pompey would look in a 4-3-3 formationHow Pompey would look in a 4-3-3 formation
How Pompey would look in a 4-3-3 formation

Yet, he was surprisingly left out, with Jackett instead opting to utilise defender James Bolton as he worried about the visitors’ quality going forward.

The manager obviously makes those calls depending on the opposition.

But when everyone’s fit and available, it’s hard to see how Hiwula can be involved more than what he currently has been.

The same applies to Ben Close.

He’s been used as a substitute in the past two games, but has often been left wanting more, with his appearances few and far between this season.

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The extra competition for places in the engine room could see him revert to even less minutes.

Of course, Bryn Morris wasn’t offered that luxury after he was allowed to leave in order for Pompey’s transfer business to begin.


The domino effect initiated by the arrivals of Daniels, White and Byers has, for argument’s sake, already claimed two victims.

But what would their starting XI involvement mean for those currently in the side?

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Well, clearly, Lee Brown would see his game time at left-back reduced – although, again, it’s worth stressing that no-one’s place is guaranteed.

Meanwhile, no-one has said that Daniels will come in to be first-choice left-back.

Brown’s form this season sees to that.

However, there’s no getting away from the fact that Daniels arrives with a big reputation and is not here to make up the numbers.

If he does take up residency on the left of the back four, then Brown could justifiably feel harshly treated,

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The same applies to Andy Cannon, whose occupancy of a central-midfield role in the current 4-4-2 formation has coincided with a dramatic change of Pompey results following a poor start to the season.

His energy and drive has been key to the Blues’ ascent up the table.

But with Tom Naylor currently key to the team and Cannon replaced by substitute White in the past two games, it’s evident who the manager believes is expendable when a decision is needed.

Byers’ presence will also increase that pressure.

But all Cannon needs to do is maintain the levels he’s been producing – and we now all know how good he can be when he’s on his game.

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Marcus Harness and Ryan Williams will also be looking over their shoulders if Jackett believes today’s the day to go with White and Byers.

No matter what formation you pick, it’s hard to find a way to accommodate all four in a starting XI.

Harness’ form has dipped in recent weeks – but we all know how highly rated he is Fratton Park.


That brings us nicely on to systems and ways to play all the new arrivals together with current team favourites.

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There would be no need to mess around with defensive numbers to accommodate Daniels – he would be a simple like-for-like replacement for Brown in a back four.

Where the others fit in is the issue.

If 4-4-2 is maintained and Jackett wanted to fit both White and Byers in, then Cannon would probably be the fall guy.

White would slot in alongside Naylor, with Byers, who sees himself as a traditional number eight, made to play slightly forward as the link between the midfield and striker John Marquis.

In that respect, either Harness or Williams would have to make way – not unless he’s tempted to play either instead of Rona Curtis or Michael Jacobs on the left,

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It’s a similar scenario in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with White and Naylor sitting deep and Byers the central figure in an attacking four.

A 4-3-3- would allow Byers to occupy a role he’s more accustomed to, with him and White either side of Naylor.

Once again, Cannon would most likely be left on the bench, with Jackett made to decide his forward options from a pool of Curtis, Jacobs, Marquis, Ellis Harrison, Hiwula, Williams and Harness.

It’s not a bad problem to have.

It certainly outweighs the problems associated with an injury crisis.

However, it’s one the manager will need to manage correctly.

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