Defensive reinforcements top of Jackett’s January wish-list

PORTSMOUTH manager Kenny Jackett will prioritise strengthening his defence in the transfer window as he looks to push his side into the promotion picture over the coming weeks.

Ahead of the Boxing Day clash with top-of-the-table Wycombe Wanderers, reports linking Pompey to Shrewsbury’s left-sided defender Aaron Pierre have emerged, with the 26-year-old Grenada international considered one of the best centre backs in League One. The club recruited heavily in the summer at the back, but have struggled to find a settled defensive unit with injuries and form both playing their part in Jackett constantly changing his back four.

At least one new defender is expected to arrive when the transfer window opens in a few days’ time, and the manager is also banking on having a fully fit Jack Whatmough back on first-team duty in a matter of weeks.

But one player brought in to plug the massive hole left by the departure of Matt Clarke last summer is hoping to cement his place in the back four – and at the same time form an un-droppable pairing with Christian Burgess.

Sean Raggett has endured a tough opening to his time at Fratton Park since his loan move from Norwich City, plagued by a number of niggling injuries as Pompey have struggled to nail down a settled defensive line-up.

But he is hoping that he and Burgess can cement their pairing with another impressive performance when league leaders Wycombe head to the south coast.

“Burgey and I have had a few games together now and we’ve been able to keep some clean sheets in that time,” said Raggett, the pair making it four clean sheets out of ten together with the shut-out against Ipswich on Saturday.

“The more you play alongside someone at the back, then the better that understanding is going to get.

“You’re always looking for them (clean sheets) and so it was nice to keep out the Ipswich forwards on Saturday, especially after the performance at Accrington when we weren’t good enough.

“We were expecting that (Ipswich) to be a really tough game with the players they’ve got, but I don’t think they had too many chances.”

Jackett will be without Ross McCrorie for the Wycombe game after the midfielder suffered a hamstring tear, with Lee Brown and Brandon Haunstrup also on the injury list. Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa is absent after getting sent off in the weekend defeat at Oxford, but former Blues man David Wheeler could feature.