Jack Whatmough on target for Pompey comeback

Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Paul Cook admitted he is pleased with Jack Whatmough’s ongoing progress from injury.

And the youngster remains on target for a return around Christmas.

Whatmough sustained cruciate knee ligament damage against Cheltenham at Fratton Park in March.

That signalled a long road back for the highly-rated defender, who had been enjoying his best Blues season to date.

At that point he had racked up 24 appearances, of which only one had come as a substitute.

Yet Whatmough’s recovery is continuing to impress Cook, who took him on the pre-season stay in Portugal to maintain an eye on his progress.

And he is anticipating the 19-year-old starting to run outside soon.

Pompey’s manager said: ‘It is as you were, he is on schedule, training hard and doing really, really well.

‘He is in the hands of the physios and still expected to be available around Christmas time. Jack is putting everything in, showing plenty of effort and we are pleased with how he is progressing.

‘I would imagine he will start running this month and then four or five weeks after that can join in training.

‘There are no specific time frames at present.

‘We’ll just see how he continues to progress from what was a bad injury.’

Since Whatmough was sidelined, Andy Awford has departed as manager, while Cook took over in May.

Subsequently, Cook has brought in two new central defenders during large-scale changes to his Pompey playing squad, while Joe Devera, Ben Chorley, Nyron Nosworthy and Paul Robinson departed.

Christian Burgess was recruited for a transfer fee from Peterborough, while the promising Matt Clarke has arrived on loan from Ipswich.

The pair have gone on to be ever-present as Cook’s central-defensive partnership during the League Two campaign so far.

In addition, Adam Webster remains highly-regarded by Cook and has impressed on the occasions he has been called upon to feature in the side.

At present he is the undisputed back-up option to Burgess and Clarke, making every squad and three cup starts having penned a new two-year deal in the summer.

The return of Whatmough would create further competition in the centre of defence heading into the second half of the campaign.

Incidentally, Clarke is on an initial loan from Ipswich until January, when it will be reassessed.

However, the 19-year-old – who is a month younger than Whatmough – has impressed since landing at Fratton Park, while Cook has previously spoken how Mick McCarthy is satisfied with the amount of game-time the youngster is enjoying.

Clarke has missed just one Pompey fixture so far, albeit that came in the much-altered squad at Exeter City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last month.