JACK WHATMOUGH is set to be welcomed back into Pompey’s first team as he makes his latest injury return tonight.
And the defender will do so with Paul Cook’s praise ringing in his ears.
Whatmough is now fully recovered from the knee injury picked up seven weeks again at Crewe.
It was feared the Gosport talent had suffered a recurrence of the anterior cruciate problem which kept him sidelined for 10 months last year.
But it was other ligaments in Whatmough’s knee affected by the incident, and he has undertaken a pacy return to fitness.
The 20-year-old got minutes under his belt for the reserves last week, and Cook is now hoping he can build towards the form he was showing when the problem struck.
Cook said: ‘He’s been out injured for a period of time.
‘So Jack’s got to work well and train well.
‘We had a good result at Norwich last week and it was a great performance by him.
‘Every time you get a chance to play football, it’s a chance to show people where you’re at and what you’re doing.
‘He’s doing smashing, but you’ve got to have games.
‘It’s the same with Matt Clarke, whose nicked a few games now.
‘After that we thought, with the balance of his left foot, it was right to bring him back in.
Certainly Jack hasn’t done a lot wrong. He only found himself out of the team through being injured.
‘He was back to his best at Crewe. They need to play games to get to that and I’m sure he’ll get opportunities.’
Whatmough will be joined in Pompey’s back four tonight by Brandon Haunstrup.
The 19-year-old is set to make his first appearance of the season after having to deal with his own injury issues.
The left-back injured his shoulder before the start of the campaign against Bournemouth.
That’s kept the Waterloovile talent waiting to pick up game time as he undertook a patient recovery.
Haunstrup has now picked up minutes against Newport County and Norwich in reserve and behind-closed-door fixtures.
Cook now wants him to pick up senior playing time.
He said: ‘Brandon’s all right. He’s had a couple of games now. He had the one at Norwich last week.
‘Brandon looked good, came through the 90 minutes and will be involved against Reading for sure.’
– JORDAN CROSS