Norwich next stop in comeback trail of Portsmouth right-back auditionee James Bolton

James Bolton’s comeback trail next leads to Norwich as Pompey edge closer to resolving their right-back issue.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 7:00 pm
James Bolton made his maiden Pompey start in the Trophy against Crawley Town. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South
James Bolton made his maiden Pompey start in the Trophy against Crawley Town. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

Since Nathan Thompson’s self-inflicted departure, the Blues have auditioned Anton Walkes, Ross McCrorie and Christian Burgess in the vacant role.

Yet it is the re-emergence of summer signing Bolton which is likely to provide the long-term solution.

Earmarked as the Blues’ future, the 25-year-old signed a three-year deal after opting to leave Shrewsbury, yet has been hampered by injury since his arrival.

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Last week’s Trophy victory over Crawley was Bolton’s maiden Pompey outing following groin and ankle problems.

A brief glimpse of right-back ability that Jackett has been craving to introduce into his first-team.

Now the former Stoke youngster is earmarked to line up against Norwich under-21s in Saturday’s next Trophy group fixture.

Assistant boss Joe Gallen said: ‘For James, the next game is Norwich in this competition, with one eye on what team we end up playing against Burton the following Tuesday.

‘Norwich is an ideal opportunity for those guys to go out and play again – and see how the team settles.

‘James played in our first pre-season friendly and our last, so hasn’t played much football, and you could see that against Crawley.

‘Yet as the game wore on, especially early in the second, he got more confident and looked like he could get forward a lot more.

‘Confidence is everything, it really is, it’s unreal how it affects every single aspect of any player’s performance, and I thought by the end of it he looked shattered.

‘But early in the second half was a bit more him, getting forward, getting crosses in, getting down the right-hand side.’

Pompey are presently second in Southern Group B, with two games to play and two qualification spots up for grabs.

And Saturday’s match (12.30pm), offers the likes of Bolton more minutes in pursuit of League One action.

Gallen added: ‘There is an expectation in the league – and rightly so. There’s a big fall in every game.

‘So you need players that can hit the ground running and be confident enough to play very well straight away.’