Date: 16th November 2017 at 8:06am
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I’m a huge fan of Matt Clarke, in fact I think the former Ipswich man is arguably the best defender Pompey have, perhaps there’s no argument about it?

Such is his defensive ability Kenny Jackett decided to switch Clarke to the problematic left back spot against Blackpool – this isn’t a permanent solution but Jackett’s assistant Joe Gallen feels he’ll carry on in this role for the time being.

Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Damien McCrory have both suffered knee injuries, Brandon Haunstrup has been given a bit of a chance but Jackett – as much as he’s openly admitted he would sooner have specialist players in their positions as the first choice – has now decided to go with greater experience and a back four, which also included Gareth Evans back at right back against Blackpool, he feels will be ‘big and strong’ and give us the best chance to ‘stop conceding.’

‘Kenny decided on playing Matt at left-back as he thought it would give us the best chance of keeping a clean sheet. Obviously, we didn’t get that but the back four looked big and strong in terms of winning the first header. It looked manly enough, aggressive and mobile,’ Gallen told the News.

Adding: ‘So I think there’s something in it. Matt is such a good player he could play right-back! He could play right-back, left-back or anywhere because Matt is a natural footballer. I’m not saying he’s there to stay at left-back but it is a good option for us.’

Yes, as Gallen went on to continue, the more Clarke plays at left back the better he will become but his best position is central defence, which isn’t the best position for Oli Hawkins, surely? Admittedly Hawkins has filled in well – his combination with Brett Pitman is perhaps too similar in some ways to work up front? – but you cannot tell me he’s the better option to Clarke.

As they say ‘needs must’ at times but once there’s the unquestionable option to put round pegs in round holes we’ve got to do this and, in my opinion, we’ll be better off using Clarke in his favoured, also best, position in central defence.

Meanwhile, trialist Adam Henley, whilst favouring a right back role but also capable of playing at left back himself and being used in midfield in a reserve outing on Monday, could have a chance at Fratton Park.

The fact he’s been without a club for so long – being released by Blackburn in the summer – is a little concerning, but Pompey coach Robbie Blake doesn’t feel this is an issue.

He told the News: ‘It’s modern-day football (players not having clubs). There’s a lot of very good footballers who haven’t got clubs. You don’t realise until you’re at a football club like this the opportunity these players are getting.’

Adding: ‘He could be a real asset to the football club.’

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2017-18 Prediction League – November
Southend (h) Saturday 18th November 2017 – click here.
Peterborough (a) Tuesday 21st November 2017 – click here.
Plymouth (h) Saturday 25th November 2017 – click here.

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