Date: 9th October 2008 at 12:34pm
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Jerome Thomas made his return from his back injury this week in our reserve win over Spurs – they cannot even win at that level! But since his signing Armand Traore and Nadir Belhadj have been bought in, so he is looking well down the selection order at the moment…

However Harry Redknapp has backed the winger with what he has told The News. He feels he will shine at Fratton and he is still very much in his thoughts: ‘Jerome did all right the other night. It was good to see him back out there again.

‘He’s been unfortunate with his injury really. He’d only just arrived here and then picked up a nasty-looking injury. The lad’s back now, though, and came through the Spurs game okay.

‘Now, hopefully, he can push on and challenge for the first team. I like him, he’s definitely a talent, and he can do well for this football club for sure.

‘He’s another left-sided player and gives you another option on that side to what we have at the moment.

‘In many ways he’s similar to Armand Traore. He goes at people, he’s exciting, he loves to attack, has bags of skill and can just make things happen.

‘We haven’t seen much of him because of the injury, but he is a player with terrific ability. Hopefully, he’ll be back challenging again soon. He’s another great option to have.’

At the moment he is of course behind the two loan stars – who have shone, but ahead of Niko Kranjcar – but only as he is injured…

Here is a thought though, we are crying out for a pacy, tricky winger on the right so why not play him there!

Thomas plays on the left but is so right sided it is unbelievable, so it seems fairly straight forward to me, that if he has that talent then why not play him on the right and see how he combines with Glen Johnson?

He has pace like John Utaka and skill like Glen Little – so, both of those players have attributes that you want, but lack others, so you – well I do – want to combine those from that pair to make one player, maybe Thomas has these combined to be that player…


Speaking of Traore and Belhadj the chances of signing one, or both have been played down by Harry Redknapp

He has told The News there is ‘absolutely no chance’ of Traore staying here and he will return to Arsenal at the end of the season, whereas merely affording Belhadj could be a problem for us: ‘there is no chance of Traore staying here, absolutely no chance.

‘Arsenal would not sell him. Arsene Wenger let him come here to get experience and it’s been great for him. He’s only just turned 19. They’re not looking to sell him. That’s not even in our thoughts.

‘Belhadj has also done really well. He’s been terrific for us and has a great attitude. I’d like to keep him but at the moment money is tight everywhere, we all know that. That’s how things are.

‘I don’t think we will sign too many in January. I can’t see us signing an awful lot of people.

‘Everywhere in the world is tight for money, not just us. Manchester City will be splashing it around, but I can’t see any others doing the same.

‘We’ll have to see.’

It would be fantastic to sign Traore, but to be honest I have not been expecting this to happen at all and from the minute he signed I felt that he would return to Arsenal at the end of the season.

Although, that said even if he does return to Arsenal – as he almost certainly will – that is not to say that in the future – if we could afford him – he would not return… Remember a certain Glen Johnson returned to Chelski after a loan spell, we all know where he ended up eventually!

As for Belhadj I would be amazed if we did not sign him, money struggles or not! We would have had an arrangement in place when we signed him on the season loan, with a fee set – so this would not have risen. My thinking is a fee of no more than £4m would have been agreed for the Algerian, and this could be found as players will move on.

Get the fella signed as soon as we can – and I reckon Redknapp knows this will happen anyway, he is just doing his ‘play it down’ speech…


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