Date: 28th July 2017 at 10:14am
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Well, technically one, in fact two; have been praised while another has been assured he has a Pompey future.

Talking of futures though, Tom Davies’ was expected to be away from Fratton Park but the injury to Matt Clarke, which will see him miss the opening month of the League One season, has seen him step up to the plate as Kenny Jackett’s, seemingly, preferred option to partner Christian Burgess.

Paul Cook didn’t have Davies, a player he signed from Accrington Stanley, in his mind and was prepared to offload him but Jackett’s arrival has presented the central defender with a clean slate and he’s impressed the Pompey boss.

He told the News: ‘Tom is competitive and aggressive in a centre-back position where in your mid-to-late 20s you go on to have your best time. That is because, like goalkeepers, it is a decision-making position. Every season you learn, every season you have to improve, every season you have to get a bit better – and he is of the age where he can consistently get better and improve. I like his attitude, he is wholehearted.’

Jackett said it had ‘been tough for Tom and Jack (Whatmough) to shift Burgess and Clarke in recent seasons’ with Davies the one who has been given ‘chances and opportunities’ but he wasn’t giving away who would start against Rochdale.

Quite clearly, in Jackett’s mind, Burgess and Clarke are the first choice options, Whatmough has also made an impression, with the Blues’ boss wanting both, in fact all four, ready and fighting for places.

‘I have been impressed with both him and Jack, I think it’s very tight between them. As a unit – where you are talking about four centre-halves – they are all very capable. It’s not an area I’ve looked to strengthen. The pair of them have to make sure they are ready behind Burgess and Clarke so when called upon can hold on to the shirt.’

Of course we also have Nathan Thompson to come into contention when he’s fit too.

I’m a huge fan of Whatmough’s, he, if Clarke wasn’t fit, would be in my side most weeks but I can understand why Jackett could be leaning towards Davies. Burgess is more of a ball-playing central defender whereas Clarke, no slouch when it comes to playing football, is in the old school mould of defenders that defends first and foremost. Whatmough is also a ball-playing defender so my thinking is Jackett wants one of each – hence Davies getting the nod?

Meanwhile, despite continued links with a return to Coventry, Jackett has also insisted Carl Baker has a Fratton future.

Personally I’m one, whilst not desperate for him to leave, who would let him go.

Baker has impressed Jackett during pre-season as he told the News: ‘Carl still has a future here. He played well on Saturday. I thought he showed a good range of passing. He is somebody I have worked with and used so far, so we’ll see how that continues. I hope it continues successfully.’

Having been able to assessing him first hand during pre-season, coming up against him plenty of times during Baker’s career at various clubs, Jackett praised his professionalism and ability. However, he feels he could play a different role for Pompey during the final – as it stands – 12 months of his deal with the Blues.

‘Carl’s a very good professional. I have seen a lot of him and played against him a lot. He has been very capable at this level. He scored nine goals and made 46 appearances in a promotion-winning side last year, so there is a good track record. Assessing him in pre-season, I think he is suited to now playing a deeper role. Not quite in the wide area with explosive pace but in a deeper role with an all-round game and the range of passing you need from someone in there,’ said Jackett.

Adding: ‘You need somebody who can pass both short and long as you can get limited time on the ball and it stops you switching the play. Certainly the side doesn’t look as fluent if those two are not comfortable on the ball. We will see what happens with his future, we will see exactly how it goes but up to now he’s had a good pre-season.’

I’m not entirely convinced Baker will end the season, perhaps August even, at Fratton but do feel there’s a decent chance he’ll start the campaign at the Park – if he wants week-in-week-out football he’s another I think will have to leave Pompey but on the Blues’ terms.


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