Why former Pompey favourite Jack Whatmough is already a player of the season candidate at Wigan
Former Pompey mainstays Jack Whatmough and Tom Naylor have been thriving since moving to pastures new at League One rivals Wigan and have already established themselves a fans’ favourites at the DW Stadium.
That’s according to a Wigan Athletic Supporters’ Club committee member Adam Pendlebury, who even claims the former is already an early candidate for the Latics’ player of the season.
Both central-defender Whatmough and midfielder Naylor have featured regularly so far this term for Leam Richardson’s side – making four and six appearances respectively since leaving Fratton Park this summer.
Wigan currently sit ninth in the third-tier table with seven points after a tough set of fixtures to date, having already played highly-fancied promotion candidates Sunderland, Rotherham United, Wycombe and Charlton.
Despite that baptism of fire, the former Blues duo are performing well and are already considered key contributors to this new-look Wigan side which has clearly defined promotion ambitions.
Wigan have brought in 12 fresh faces under their new ownership model and offered both Whatmough and Naylor deals that surpassed those on offer at PO4.
Like the rest of the new boys at the DW Stadium, there’s much pressure in their shoulders.
But Pendlebury – who is also the co-host of the Progress with Unity Wigan Athletic podcast – believes they’re already living up to expectations, with Whatmough, in particular, proving why he was such a sought-after commodity at the end of his Pompey contract.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I’m a bit of a traditionalist. If Wigan want to challenge for promotion, the team needs two strong centre-backs who can defend well and bring others into play.
‘Whatmough is the epitome of that, and if he can stay fit for a long spell, we’ve got a good chance of gaining promotion.
‘He’s very organised and vocal, so he knows where he and his team-mates need to be – and he’s already got a podcast man of the match which is a good sign.
‘I know it’s very early in the season, but you can tell already, he has to be in the conversation for player of the season.’
Pendlebury also holds ex-Blues captain Naylor in high regard.
The supporters’ club sponsor the 30-year-old defensive midfielder, whose no-nonsense approach to defending and personality has seen him establish a clear affinity with the fans.
‘The fact he resonates so well with the fans has made him a favourite already,’ Pendlebury continued.
‘Naylor can put his foot in well and step into the back four if Whatmough needs to be rested.
‘Leam Richardson wraps Whatmough up in cotton wool - so having the right player to replace him in his absence is great.
‘But for me, the most important thing is his great defensive work. I only notice him winning the ball, which is a great sign for a defender.
‘He does the simple things right, and he’s perfect to sit in front of, or be a part of the back-four.’
For Pendlebury, Pompey’s loss is Wigan’s gain, as both men have ingratiated themselves towards Wigan fans with their good performances.
He added: ‘From what I’ve seen, I think they’ll be the first names on the team-sheet from now on, and injury permitting, they’ll be great this season.’