Portsmouth midfielder Tom Naylor could stay at the back as Kenny Jackett searches for winning formula

Kenny Jackett is weighing up handing Tom Naylor an extended defensive stay as he searches for the right formula at the back.

Sunday, 1st September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 12:51 am
Tom Naylor impressed at the back against QPR.

The Pompey boss revealed he’s mulling over giving Naylor a run alongside Paul Downing in the coming weeks in an effort to settle his defence down.

Jackett sprang a surprise in his team selection at QPR on Tuesday night, as he chose to move Naylor into the back line, switch Christian Burgess to right-back and move Ross McCrorie into midfield.

It was a gamble which paid off as the Blues picked up a 2-0 triumph over the Championship side and all three men enjoyed strong performances.

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Now he’s considering whether the 28-year-old is the man to give him the continuity at the back he’s striving for.

Jackett said: ‘I’d certainly like the back four to settle down. I’d like it to and I’d like the whole team to.

‘The back four and keeper, if you can keep that settled. Yes, if Naylor and Downing are ready now.

‘There’s some people are finding their feet, like where does James Bolton fit in?

Tom Naylor impressed at the back against QPR

‘But Tom’s established here. He’s established with the team and players. He’s established with the crowd.

‘I wouldn’t think full-back for him but I’m very confident with him either centre-back or centre midfield. Very confident.

‘He gives you a very consistent level of performance now.

‘He’s comfortable in either. I spoke to him a lot in pre-season and told him I made need him to drop into the back. It’s a position he’s played a lot.

‘The side only settles down if you’re successful. Results ultimately, but also performances as well. That’s a big thing.

‘If results are poor and performances are poor, in the end there’s change coming and that’s it.’

Jackett explained there was a lot to consider when going about the reshuffle, including the potential inclusions of Bolton and Anton Walkes.

He eventually opted for Burgess at right-back, in which he felt was the highest risk of the positional changes.

Jackett added: ‘It felt like a similar pattern in personnel from the last game with Brandon (Haunstrup) stepping in for Lee early on (against Coventry) and he did fine in that game, he played well.

‘So there was one decision with Christian coming in for Sean (Raggett) and three positional changes - the triangle of Burgess, Naylor and McCrorie.

‘There was a temptation to carry on but in pre-season the two games I played with Downing and Naylor at centre-back, they looked very good.

‘It was getting Ross McCrorie into midfield, I know he’s had a couple of games at right-back but he’s quite natural in midfield.

‘The most left field one or biggest risk was Christian coming in at right-back.

‘I thought it was the right combination because if you don’t get that centre-back pairing right it’s hard and everything else falls away.

‘In an ideal world it would’ve been James Bolton playing right-back, but with James being tough and go through the week I decided to give him further time.

‘It was a straight choice then between going for someone else there or going with Anton.

‘I think Anton needs a little more time and a game or two. Tuesday night will be perfect for him to get him back on and playing.

‘And Christian will never let you down wherever you play him. I always feel that’s the case.’