Wheeler requests Gosport Borough move
Former Pompey Academy defender Elliot Wheeler has asked to leave after failing to dislodge TJ Cuthbertson from the Gosport Borough team.
The 21-year-old Wheeler was released by the Blues in 2013 and joined Stoke City’s development squad.
After a three-month loan spell at Nuneaton Town last term, the Isle of Wight-based full-back returned on trial at Pompey in an attempt to earn a deal but eventually joined the Privett Park outfit earlier this season.
But his path to a regular starting berth has been blocked by Cuthbertson – another former Pompey Academy man – who signed from Sholing in the summer and has impressed at right-back all season.
Both players are included in the Borough squad for tonight’s trip to Sholing in the Russell-Cotes Cup quarter-final but boss Alex Pike has confirmed that he cannot allow Wheeler to leave until he has found a replacement.
Pike said: ‘Elliot Wheeler has asked to go. But we are short on numbers so he will have to go when I’m ready.
‘He is 21 years old and was playing with Nuneaton last season.
‘He wants to play football and I understand that.
‘But it’s TJ Cuthbertson’s form that has kept him out of the side.
‘I can’t take the shirt away from TJ because he has been one of our most consistent performers this season.
‘Elliot is a good right-back but he can’t displace TJ.
‘Elliot would argue that he has been patient in waiting until January and he’s only had one start.
‘He hasn’t caused any problems but he wants to play.
‘He was very calm and rational and told me he needed to be playing football and asked if he could go.
‘It is just a case of doing what is right for him. I respect that.
‘I wish I had a few others like him.
‘But I rate him as a footballer and as a person and I expect him to be fully committed if he is required.
‘It will be a shame to lose him.’
Cuthbertson and fellow former Sholing man Mike Carter will return to their old stomping ground as proof that players from the Wessex League premier division are capable of stepping up three levels of football
Pike said: ‘Mike Carter was the barometer and TJ is another one that has shown there are good players at that level who are more than capable of stepping up.
‘We moved away from the experienced players and went with younger, hungry players.
‘We still need those players who have that experience but to play a pressing, high-energy game, you need some youth in the team.
‘We played against Sholing in the Hampshire Senior Cup final last season and I thought TJ was the best player on the park.
‘He was already on our radar but that prompted me to sign him and the rest is history.’
Meanwhile, Pike explained that Tom Dunford was denied his playing farewell at the weekend after requiring a hand operation.
The midfielder has now left the club to concentrate on a new business venture.
Pike said: ‘Tom was going to play but he injured his hand at work and needed a minor operation so that was a shame. But the lads still gave him a good send-off.’