Verdict: Portsmouth skipper Tom Naylor would be wasted at centre-back against Bolton

Tom Naylor breaks past Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg against Southampton. Picture: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Tom Naylor breaks past Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg against Southampton. Picture: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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Tom Naylor would be wasted if he’s restored to the defence against Bolton. 

That’s the verdict of sports writer Will Rooney, speaking in the latest episode of Pompey Talk.

Kenny Jackett’s weighing up playing Naylor at centre-back when the Trotters visit Fratton Park tomorrow.

Oli Hawkins is sidelined for up to six weeks after suffering a foot injury in the south-coast derby defeat to Southampton on Tuesday.

Summer signings Paul Downing and Sean Raggett are Pompey’s recognised centre-half options, while Anton Walkes and Ross McCrorie have operated in the role during their respective careers.

Jackett admits Naylor is also under consideration, having so far started three matches in the position this season.

However, Rooney believes the captain must remain in central midfielder. 

And he feels Downing should partner Christian Burgess in the heart of the defence against Keith Hill’s men.

Speaking on Pompey Talk, Rooney said: ‘It’s another tweak at the back, this time forced through injury. 

‘That Hawkins and Burgess partnership looked like Jackett had finally got it right.

‘But I wouldn’t put Tom Naylor at the back. You miss his energy, bite and ability to win the ball in the engine room.

‘Ross McCrorie has had a bit of a mixed start and hasn’t really set the world alight like some thought he might have imagined. 

‘Naylor is your skipper and you need him in the middle of the park to be your general – he’s wasted at centre-back.

‘I’d probably go with Burgess and Downing at centre-back. I know Jackett said he likes someone powerful next to either but they haven't played bad together bar Burton.

‘It hasn’t been a bad combination and both are experienced players.

‘Maybe Paul Downing has thought “I need to be a bit more aggressive” and be more powerful to take that role on (while out of the team). 

‘For me, I’d be putting him back into the team.’

Watch the rest of Pompey Talk on the video above.