Kenny Jackett: Christian Burgess back from Asian bug - and fighting fit for Portsmouth first-team battle

Christian Burgess shed four kilograms following a bug caught on his Asian travels.

Christian Burgess, who lost 4kg following a stomach bug, once again has a first-team challenge this season. Picture: Joe Pepler
Christian Burgess, who lost 4kg following a stomach bug, once again has a first-team challenge this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Now he’s battling to prevent the loss of his first-team place following the arrival of two fresh adversaries.

Burgess, who this summer travelled to Borneo, Nepal and Malaysia, missed the opening two days of Pompey training with a stomach illness.

After a clean bill of health, he returned to action from the beginning of last week and is with Kenny Jackett’s squad in Dublin.

Also among their number at the Portmarnock Hotel are summer recruits Paul Downing and Sean Raggett.

They are vying with Burgess for the two central-defensive spots in Jackett’s side, with the friendly schedule kicking off against UCD on Wednesday (5pm).

And for a player who finished last season so impressively, he once again must fight for a first-team presence.

Jackett said: ‘Christian lost maybe 4kg following a stomach bug picked up on these exotic places he goes to in the summer.

‘He wanted to come in on the second day, but with the risk of passing it around we told him to instead return on Monday last week.

‘He has been fine and was in all last week. There has been a little bit of weight loss, but he has done every session and is fine.

‘Christian finished last season very strongly, I was pleased with him. Now we have three senior central defenders, competing for two places against Shrewsbury on the opening day.

‘With two for every position where we can, we also have young Matt Casey as our fourth centre-back.

‘Will we play 62 games again this year? I don’t know, but similarly you have to plan and try to get two players for every position.

‘I think all three can play with each other, there are different combinations, these are three reasonably-experienced centre-backs.

‘I'm confident with those three guys – and Casey as well. I won’t hesitate to use any of them, I have enough cover there.

‘That covers you for form, injuries, choices and competition.’

Jackett will have the opportunity to pair up his centre-halves on Wednesday.

The Blues face League of Ireland Premier Division side UCD in this summer’s opening friendly.

And he’s looking forward seeing how his team shapes up.

Jackett added: ‘We have done some 11-a-side work already and will continue to do that, while there’s Wednesday’s game and then the Hawks.

‘In terms of selection, you will see a pattern emerging, it won’t be too much chopping and changing.

‘Obviously there will be opportunities for people, for all of the players. They’ll want to be in what is perceived to be the first XI – or to keep the pressure on trying to get in.’