JACK WHATMOUGH’S return has provided food for thought for Pompey’s coaching staff.
The defender put his injury pain firmly to bed as he made his first Blues start in 14 months in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Northampton.
The 19-year-old’s afternoon was soured by putting an unfortunate first-half own goal past Brian Murphy.
But that failed to distract from what was a promising return to the first-team picture after his late cameo at Hartlepool.
Whatmough has had to undergo a gruelling period of rehabilitation from the cruciate knee injury picked up against Cheltenham.
That has tested the Gosport talent’s resolve, patience and determination as he battled back to fitness.
Pompey assistant manager, Leam Richardson, was encouraged with what he saw as he was given his first significant glimpse of Whatmough in competitive action.
Richardson admitted he learnt more about what the England under-19 international has to offer.
And that insight can only come from seeing the talent in the cut and thrust of competitive action.
‘It’s great to see Jack back,’ said Richardson.
‘I’ve not seen a lot of Jack close up.
‘He’s been injured for quite some time and you can only see so much in training.
‘You can only see certain bits in that environment.
‘When he’s been on loan you can only see certain bits which go with his game, too.
‘I just wanted to see signs from him of what we can do – and we certainly saw that.
‘There were some pleasing signs from him.
‘He’s a man and he commands his area of the pitch. You’ve got to get up early to get spare change from Jack. You can see that.
‘His range of passing is good and he has a good aura about him.
‘We’ve learnt a bit more about him, certainly.’
Richardson knows Whatmough would have been left frustrated by scoring at the wrong end of the pitch.
But he feels he doesn’t need to linger on that moment when he offered encouragement with his all-round display.
Richardson added: ‘He’d be disappointed with the goal, with him just returning to the side, but he doesn’t need to be.
‘It doesn’t bother us one bit that happened when you look at his performance.
‘We’ve got something to reflect on with that performance.’
– JORDAN CROSS