KENNY JACKETT will demand his defence ‘tightens up’ as Pompey look to force their way into the promotion picture over the festive season.
With Brandon Haunstrup out for up to two months with a knee injury and Christian Burgess suspended for the trip to Accrington Stanley on Saturday, Portsmouth will reshuffle at the back as they look to continue their recent good run.
Jackett’s side are undefeated in ten games in all competitions but the manager has been concerned about their tendency to ship goals, with four conceded in their last two home league games.
“We’ll obviously have to make changes with Brandon Haunstrup requiring an operation and Christian Burgess suspended for one game,” said Jackett, who missed out on the League One manager of the month award which was won by Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth. “But we certainly have the players who can form a back four that will help us go on the sort of run we’re looking for.
“We need to find the right combination to keep some more clean sheets and serve the forward players.
“We haven’t been as tight or efficient at the back as we’d like in recent games and there have been a few too many goals conceded.
“So it’s important we don’t let that continue. We won’t be able to keep pace with the sides at the top of the table if we don’t improve in that area.”
Midfielder Tom Naylor has already offered his services as a makeshift centre half but Jackett has readymade replacements for Burgess in Sean Raggett and Paul Downing. The right-back spot is likely to go to loan signing Ross McCrorie who has already played the role this season.
Ahead of the trip to the north west Jackett also paid tribute to former Pompey boss Jim Smith who died this week. Smith, who was manager between 1991 and 1995 before returning as assistant to Harry Redknapp in 2002, took a young Pompey side to the FA Cup semi-final in 1992, and Jackett said: “He had a fantastic career over many years and with a lot of clubs.
“From everything I’ve been told, he was also a great character and it’s a sad loss for football in general.”