Why Portsmouth simply have to bring in a leader like Charlton defender Jason Pearce

Jason Pearce is the kind of leader Pompey need
Jason Pearce is the kind of leader Pompey need
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There are reasons why Jason Pearce doesn’t fit the Identikit Pompey signing.

After all, the club have a stated transfer policy of signing players who they can develop and move on for a profit.

At 31, the Charlton man misses a tick in that box.

The powerhouse has been dealt his share of injuries, too. It seems as if much of last season was hampered by stints on the sideline for the Addicks captain.

Oh, and then there’s the thorny rose-tinted issue of a Pompey player making a homecoming. How often does that end up working out for the best?

But delve a little deeper and a different picture begins to emerge: one which tells you this is exactly the kind of player Kenny Jackett needs.

When it comes to periods in the treatment room, Pearce has been handed more than most over the past couple of seasons.

A knee problem led to two periods out after being handed a new deal at The Valley ahead of the 2017-18 season. There’s been no suggestion of a recurrence since.

Pearce’s time out last term came as a result of an ankle injury picked up, in typical fashion, from a challenge. That’s not the kind of issue which rings alarm bells at the prospect of a player constantly breaking down again.

There appears little to place the former Pompey trainee in the mould of those who failed to reach past glories when retracing their footsteps, too.

The case history all too often on that front is a player somewhere between twilight and dead of night when it comes to their careers.

Benjani immediately springs to mind as an example of a player making the most of a romantic notion to earn themselves a final payday. The man who emerged as a consideration for Jackett at the weekend hardly fits into the same bracket.

Pearce at 18 months north of 30 finds himself in and around the sweet spot of a central defender’s career, the marriage between experience and the body being willing blending ideally.

So some context can be afforded to the question marks over the wisdom of making a move for the man who has already delivered 44 appearances with a star and crescent on his chest.

And that’s before we even arrive at why a player like the ex-Wigan and Leeds man would be so important to Pompey’s dressing room.

Quite frankly it’s crying out for the kind of leader Pearce is.

There were undoubtedly times last term when it felt the Blues were short of a player or two who could really galvanise and rally the team in the most testing moments of the campaign.

Lee Brown came in and added some much-needed leadership. Gareth Evans stepped forward and offered his nous and a voice.

But it felt like a team capable of getting lost when the season sailed into choppy waters, underlined by the squad's current average age of 23. That’s when players who’ve clocked up approaching 500 senior appearances come into their own.

Pearce is the kind of footballer who doesn’t just have exacting standards for himself - but also demands them from those around him.

Ostensibly, a summer return for a third stint at Pompey would be as Matt Clarke’s successor, as the wait for a seemingly inevitable exit continues.

That’s big boots for the left-footer to fill undoubtedly, but one you know he’d take comfortably while adding the type of character the existing ranks requires.

And make no mistake it’s a move the lad who sees Pompey as his hometown club would love.

The Blues’ name has been mentioned alongside League One rivals Sunderland and Oxford United as possible destinations for next term.

His name surfacing as a target has given us the chance to regurgitate the 2016 Sports Mail feature in which the 6ft 1in man stated he’d one day love a Fratton return.

That’s a sentiment which still strongly exists today.

With a year left on his existing Charlton agreement, Pearce will need to put a summer completing his Uefa A licence coaching badge and recharging his batteries behind him to see how the land lies with his current employers.

With the likes of Patrick Bauer and Naby Sarr to also call on at the back, Lee Bowyer is well stocked in that area and will be looking to push forward in the Championship. The time may well be right to move on, and will become clear in the coming weeks when squads reconvene for pre-season.

A seemingly perfect solution and, one that’s being mooted, is for Pompey to take the man Steve Cotterill brought back to the club in 2011 in on a season’s loan with a view to a permanent stay.

Pearce will then get to prove any doubts which may exist wrong, while the Blues aren’t committed to the kind of deal a player could reasonably ask for when passing up Championship football - and any contract improvements which come with earning promotion.

Judging by the fan reaction, a third Fratton return is one which would be welcomed in overwhelmingly positive fashion.

Forget that, though, and forget resale values and talk of hometown clubs. What matters most is giving this squad the kind of commander Pompey so obviously require.

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Jordan Cross