Kenny Jackett: Portsmouth centre-half spots are up for grabs

Kenny Jackett insists his Pompey centre-half partnership remains up for grabs.

Sunday, 28th July 2019, 3:15 pm
Christian Burgess was handed the opportunity to impress alongside Paul Downing at Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler

For Saturday’s trip to Crawley, the Blues boss employed a third different pairing at the heart of his defence.

On the occasion of the 2-1 victory, he lined-up with Christian Burgess alongside first-choice Paul Downing.

Previously, Downing has been joined by fellow newcomer Sean Raggett and, more recently, Tom Naylor.

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Christian Burgess was handed the opportunity to impress alongside Paul Downing at Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler

At the Broadfield Stadium, with Raggett sidelined following stitches in an elbow injury and Naylor pushed into his familiar midfield role, it was Burgess’ chance to impress.

And Jackett admitted he is still weighing up the central-defensive double act for the season’s curtain-raiser at Shrewsbury next Saturday.

He said: ‘We have three or four centre-halves who all have experience and it's quite close with all of them.

‘I’m pleased with that, because there’s some consistency there. Whether I want to use Naylor in midfield or centre-back this season, there's good options for us.

‘I wanted to pair him with Ross McCrorie (at Crawley) and see how it looked.

‘Similarly with Christian, he had a very good finish to the season and a good pre-season as well – I was very comfortable putting him and pleased with what he and Paul Downing gave us at the back.

‘They have a lot of consistency and are experienced centre-backs at League One level.

‘I do feel comfortable with all four of them really, whether we lose a player through injury or want to push Tom into midfield.

‘I think I have good options there, very solid players and experienced players as well, I am comfortable in whichever partnership plays, injuries or not.’

Jackett is unsure on the timeframe for Raggett’s return.

And he feels Saturday’s pairing demonstrated their effectiveness.

He added: ‘Paul and Christian are both capable, good at League One level, consistent people and hard to get behind.

‘With, let’s say, Naylor or McCrorie in front, they can give us enough solidness and power, with Craig (MacGillivray) behind them.

‘I’m comfortable with the three or four players in that area, I am confident and comfortable with all of them at League One level.’