‘He’d kick his grandma to win’ – what Tom Lockyer’s Bristol Rovers and Wales managers have said about the Portsmouth target
He’s the hot topic of conversation in the PO postcode.
Tom Lockyer is on Pompey’s radar this summer after opting to depart Bristol Rovers following the expiry of his contract.
The Blues are hoping Lee Brown can persuade his former Gas team-mate to move to Fratton Park.
Lockyer’s likely had fair few members of the Fratton faithful starting to follow him on Twitter, while his Wikipedia and Soccerbase pages will have seen a significant increase in traffic.
But looking just at appearance numbers and the goals he’s scored is often limited.
What past managers have said about the 24-year-old can be key when finding out a player.
And it’s fair to say the five bosses he’s worked under during his career have all waxed lyrical about his quality.
It was John Ward who handed Lockyer his first-team debut as a 19-year-old in a 3-0 win at Fleetwood in January 2013.
He penned a new deal the following summer, with Ward revealing he quickly spotted the youngster’s potential.
Ward said: ‘Tom is a great example for other young players coming through the ranks.
‘When I first came here, I put Tom on as a substitute on the left wing against Fleetwood. The more I saw him in the youth team, the more I realised we had a good player on our hands.
‘And the more I saw of him this season, I have realised his best position was in midfield, although his flexibility is a fantastic bonus for a club like ours.’
Lockyer was a key player when Rovers earned promotion from the Conference in 2014-15.
And despite his young age, manager Darrell Clarke felt Lockyer was epitomised what he wanted from his players.
Speaking in February 2015, he said: ‘Tom epitomises everything I want at the football club.
‘He'd kick his own grandma if it meant winning a football match.
‘I can't speak highly enough of the kid.’
And after Lockyer penned a new deal in January 2018, Clarke insisted he was his side’s lynchpin.
‘Tom is an established first-team player who's only getting better,’ he added.
‘He's very highly rated, he's a Welsh international, he's played 200-odd games and he's still young so we're delighted that the captain, the lynchpin of the changing room, has committed to the club long term.’
Lockyer was given his first senior call-up to the Wales squad by Chris Coleman in June 2017, before being handed his maiden cap the following November.
And the former Dragons boss was relishing having the Cardiff-born man in his set-up.
Coleman said: ‘I'm excited and these are exciting times for Wales, because this will be the team for the next three, four five years and they have to start somewhere.’
Since taking over from Coleman in the Wales hot seat, Ryan Giggs has continued to select Lockyer – including for their six-day training camp ahead of European Championship 2020 qualifiers against Croatia and Hungry next month.
After the Dragons’ 0-0 friendly draw with Mexico last year, the ex-Manchester United winger felt Lockyer was ‘magnificent.’
Giggs said: ‘What I wanted to do was bring the quality just underneath that, which brings the quality up with the established players with younger players pushing for their places. That’s what I want.
‘I’ve seen that this week. Brookes coming on and showing a lot of skill, Roberts, Mepham, Lockyer, George Thomas coming on.
‘They were all magnificent and that’s what I want.
‘I want these younger players to push the older experienced players. It can only be healthy. It can only drive the standard up.’
Lockyer will end his eight-year association with Rovers this summer – with Kenny Jackett hoping he’ll start his new chapter at Pompey.
And Graham Coughlan admitted he’s ‘gutted’ to see his Gas skipper depart.
The Memorial Stadium chief said: ‘Tom wants to seek a new challenge in a higher division, he wants to preserve his Welsh international career and I have to respect that.
‘I'm absolutely gutted and I will be gutted if he leaves the football club because he's been a tremendous servant, he's been a great lad to work with and a fitting skipper.
‘I hope he gets what he wants and I say that with a heavy heart because he deserves it from what he's given to the football club.’