Guy wants golden oldies to stick around

Ricardo Rocha celebrates with fans after Pompey's recent victory at Crewe   Picture: Joe Pepler
Ricardo Rocha celebrates with fans after Pompey's recent victory at Crewe Picture: Joe Pepler

Guy Whittingham says his golden oldies still have a role in Pompey’s future beyond this season.

Veteran pair Ricardo Rocha and David Connolly have been key components in the Blues side which has undergone a resurgence in recent weeks.

Connolly, who has scored four goals in his past five matches, turns 36 in June.

Meanwhile, Rocha is currently aged 34 and part of a defence which has conceded four goals during that same five-game period.

Both players have missed fixtures this season through minor injuries.

Yet they remain crucial performers in a run which has yielded two defeats from the past eight games.

Connolly and Rocha have intimated they would be willing to consider remaining at Fratton Park after the current campaign.

And Whittingham, who is hoping to get the Blues job full-time after impressing as caretaker boss in recent weeks, would be open to keeping them.

He said: ‘Age isn’t something I look at. I look at their fitness levels, injuries, those sort of things.

‘That’s because, thinking back towards the end of my career, you have to have a manager who understands an older player might need a little bit more time to recover.

‘They might need to miss a midweek game on a Tuesday to be ready for Saturday.

‘If that side is managed well and you have good, intelligent players who can give performances on the football pitch, then I think there is an advantage having them around.

‘Not only that but from where we are with the amount of probably younger players we are going to have, they are going to be a good influence on them on and off the pitch.

‘I see no reason why the pair of them (Rocha and Connolly) can’t play for another year.

‘You see David Connolly and he runs around like a 22-year-old and has scored goals.

‘Ric is intelligent. He reads the game defensively and can get himself in the right areas where he doesn’t have to run around so much.

‘If we are going to get experienced players in they are the type we need.

‘Whether they want to stay or not is another thing.’

Connolly has been outstanding since effectively replacing Izale McLeod in Whittingham’s squad at the start of the year.

The former Southampton striker missed four games in February with a hamstring injury.

Since returning as a substitute at Oldham, he has hit the goal trail and impressed with his overall contributions to Pompey.

Rocha was brought back to Fratton Park by Whittingham in November, having been released in the summer by ex-boss Michael Appleton.

The former Portugal international has gone on to make 17 appearances this season, establishing himself as a regular.

In total, Rocha has now played 93 times for Pompey.