The win ratios of all 11 Portsmouth centre-back pairings this season

It’s been the hot topic of conversation – and it’s easy to understand why.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 5:00 pm
Sean Raggett and James Bolton featured in central defence in Pompey's final game against Fleetwood before lockdown. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

Pompey fans have been at panic stations over the possibility of both Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett being unavailable for the League One play-offs.

Burgess has agreed to join Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on a three-year deal this summer and there's concern the Belgian side won’t let him be involved in the four-team tournament.

Nevertheless, the fans’ favourite is desperate to play.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Paul Downing and Christian Burgess played alongside each other at centre-back on four occasions this term. Picture: Robin Jones

Meanwhile, Raggett's loan deal from Norwich expires on June 30, although Pompey are closing in on ensuring him extending his stay.

However, the situation has meant there's plenty of talk who could play in central defence against Oxford next week should one or both been unavailable.

Kenny Jackett has various options he could go with – ranging from bringing in Jack Whatmough or Paul Downing to dropping Tom Naylor back inot centre-half.

In total, the Pompey boss has used 11 central-defensive partnerships over the course of this season.

We’ve taken a look at the win ratios of each...

Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett

P27 W18 D4 L4

Win ratio - 63 per cent

It's been the partnership that Kenny Jackett's used the most this campaign.

While it took a while for the Pompey boss to pair them together, it's looked undoubtedly looked the most solid.

Burgess and Raggett slowly but surely built a rapport, which would become the bedrock of the Blues climbing up the League One table.

There were clean sheets in big wins over Ipswich and Wycombe over Christmas, as well as Sunderland in February.

To lose both Burgess and Raggett would be a huge blow. To lose either or will also damage Pompey’s promotion hopes.

Christian Burgess and Oli Hawkins

P6 W3 D1 L2

Win ratio – 50 per cent

It was a pairing that Kenny Jackett settled on for a brief period around November time.

In wins over Rochdale and Rotherham, it looked a decent combination, with Hawkins’ ability to bring the ball out from the back a fine attribute.

However, the striker’s flaws in a makeshift role did show.

He gave away a penalty against Rotherham, while he got away with a big shout for a spot-kick in the FA Cup win against non-league Altrincham.

Hawkins' final game in defence was in a 2-2 draw with Peterborough in December when his sliced clearance allowed Ivan Toney to open the scoring.

He’s since been returned to forward duties.

Christian Burgess and Paul Downing

P4 W2 D0 L2

Win ratio - 50 per cent

It was the pairing that started Pompey's League One curtain-raiser at Shrewsbury.

Yet Jackett scrapped their partnership after just four games, as he wanted more of a physical presence next to Burgess.

One of the victories they lined-up together was a comprehensive 3-0 win over Birmingham in the Carabao Cup, although the Championship side fielded a much-weakened side. The other was a 2-0 triumph against Tranmere.

Both loses when they featured were in the league - a 1-0 reverse at Shrewsbury and 2-1 defeat at Sunderland.

Sean Raggett and Paul Downing

P4 W3 D1 L0

Win ratio - 75 per cent

The record might be a surprise to many - but there's more to it than just the stats.

All three wins when Raggett and Downing playing were in the Leasing.com Trophy against League Two sides Crawley, Northampton and Walsall respectively.

In the latter match, both looked shaky despite a 2-1 success at the Bescot Stadium, with two penalties conceded.

The only time Downing and Raggett appearances in the league together came in the infamous 3-3 stalemate against Coventry in August when, again, both looked fairly unsettled.

Paul Downing and Tom Naylor

P3 W1 D2 L0

Win ration – 33 per cent

With James Bolton injured and Anton Walkes out of form at the start of the season, Christian Burgess was forced to operate as a makeshift right-back for three games.

It was Tom Naylor who dropped back to defence - although it didn't prove entirely successful.

Granted, the Blues beat QPR in the Carabao Cup second round, but they were held to League One draws against Blackpool and Burton.

In the latter, Pompey found themselves two goals down after seven minutes and it proved to be Downing's last league appearance.

Sean Raggett and Jack Whatmough

P2 W1 D0 L1

Win ratio – 50 per cent

Whatmough has only made two appearances this campaign, having recovered from the long-term knee injury.

His comeback appearance was in a Leasing.com Trophy win over Scunthorpe where he looked as classy as ever.

However, Whatmough struggled in his next outing in a 2-0 loss at Peterborough and was substituted at half-time.

Sean Raggett and Tom Naylor

P1 W0 D0 L1

Win ratio - 0 per cent

That cold December afternoon in Accrington still sends shivers down fans' spines.

Pompey were thrashed 4-1 by Stanley and you couldn't argue with the scoreline.

With Burgess suspended, Jackett opted to drop Naylor back into defence - and they missed his nous in the middle of the park.

The Blues were overloaded in the engine room and it’s a tactic the boss will not want to repeat if he can avoid it.

Christian Burgess and James Bolton

P1 W0 D0 L1

Win ratio - 0 per cent

The time the two featured together in the heart of defence was against Arsenal in the FA Cup.

In truth, they worked together well despite Bolton not being a natural centre-back and did well to contain a potent Premier League side at times.

Sean Raggett and James Bolton

P1 W0 D1 L0

Win ratio – 0 per cent

The centre-half pairing for Pompey's final game before lockdown.

With Burgess suspended and Jack Whatmough omitted from the squad to face Fleetwood, it was Bolton who again went into the middle after also featuring in the role in the second half at Peterborough three days earlier.

The Blues picked up a 2-2 draw, although Jackett felt the Cod Army had too many chances on goal that evening.

Sean Raggett and Oli Hawkins

P1 W1 D0 L0

Win ration - 100 per cent

It's highly unlikely we'll see this combination again despite it yielding a victory on its sole occasion.

That 3-1 win was against Norwich under-21s in the Leasing.com Trophy and Oxford will be a significantly tougher test.

Paul Downing and Brandon Haunstrup

P1 W0 D1 L0

Win ratio - 0 per cent

Haunstrup was surprisingly moved into central defence in the 2-2 draw at Oxford in the Leasing.com Trophy in October.

It's difficult to see him again featuring in the role.