BOSS Paul Cook has backed ‘fantastic’ Brian Murphy to cushion the impact of Pompey’s goalkeeping crisis.
Paul Jones has been ruled out of the play-offs following the thigh damage sustained against AFC Wimbledon.
I didn’t buy into the clamour at the time about Murphy costing us results and games and still don’t buy into it nowPaul Cook
He joins fellow keepers Ryan Fulton (thigh) and Alex Bass (knee) on the sidelines as injuries bite deep.
Murphy’s second-half entrance in Tuesday’s 1-0 Kingsmeadow triumph represented a first appearance since January.
During that time away from the starting line-up the 32-year-old had been laid low, firstly by concussion and then a calf injury.
Now he is the last man standing among the goalkeeping union.
But Cook has no qualms about turning to a player who previously racked up 10 clean sheets in 23 previous starts.
He said: ‘Paul Jones picked up a thigh strain from kicking the ball.
‘I wouldn’t have a clue if it was connected with his previous injury, that’s part and parcel of football.
‘It is a massive shame for him because he is not going to play any part in the run-in, which are huge games for us.
‘But I have no problem with Brian Murphy in goal, he is fine, I have no issue whatsoever.
‘I didn’t buy into the clamour at the time about Murphy costing us results and games and still don’t buy into it now.
‘He is an excellent goalkeeper, fully capable of playing for us in the play-offs.
‘Brian is a fantastic goalkeeper, he is a fantastic shot stopper, he is a good reader of the game, although does lack a bit of physicality.
‘Sometimes you need that physicality but if he had it the likelihood is he would still be in the Premier League, either playing or being a substitute.
‘Every keeper has some deficiency, that’s for sure.’
Murphy started the campaign as Cook’s first choice, until he was struck down by injury in September.
That opened the door for Jones – an ever-present last term – only to sustain knee ligament damage against Oxford United.
Wolves’ Aaron McCarey was signed on loan to help out, before returning to his parent club once Murphy was fit again for the Blues.
The former QPR stopper then chalked up 15 successive appearances until collecting concussion in the FA Cup replay success over Ipswich.
Next to take on the goalkeeping mantle was Fulton, recruited on loan from Liverpool until the season’s end.
Jones returned to the side when the youngster was called-up for Scotland under-21 duty.
Now Murphy finds himself back in control.
Cook added: ‘Murphy’s distribution is superb, he has that to his game.
‘At one point against Wimbledon he found Gary Roberts with a pass. It’s not just the pass but the ability to see that, the delivery was fantastic.’