Whittingham welcomes back Pompey’s ‘best’ centre-half partnership

Guy Whittingham is poised to restore his ‘best’ centre-half partnership against Notts County tomorrow.

Ricardo Rocha and Gabor Gyepes are both fit again following injury.

The pair have yet to play this year, an enforced absence during which time the Blues have conceded seven goals in two matches.

While sidelined, Lubomir Michalik and Johnny Ertl have been lining-up in the heart of the Pompey defence.

Now Rocha and Gyepes are back – and Whittingham has been quick to acknowledge their importance to his side.

He said: ‘I think they are our best centre-half pairing.

‘If you look at it, we conceded five against Swindon without them being there. If they had been, would we have let in all those goals?

‘It is also about the character, you miss the characters out there as well.

‘They are good lads who give their all so hopefully will be all right for tomorrow. They were also in place when we got our third clean sheet of the season against Preston. You have to take those sort of things and cling onto them.

‘They are both experienced players who know how to work and cover each other through being experienced pros.’

Pompey have started the New Year with a 5-0 defeat at Swindon followed by a 2-0 loss at Walsall.

Now they are back at Fratton Park and Whittingham is hoping the return of his preferred centre-half pairing can plug the leaky defence.

He added: ‘This is nothing against them but if you look against Swindon we had Johnny, Lubo and Adam Webster.

‘There’s inexperience there from Webster, Ertl has been playing in midfield for us and then there’s Lubo, who is a centre half.

‘The three combination tried their best but after 60 minutes it became too much.

‘That wasn’t just for them but the team because there were lapses in concentration everywhere.

‘Against Walsall, Lubo and Johnny did all right that day, won their fair share of headers but the man was lost for the second goal.

‘Gabor and Ric are a pair who will win their headers in your penalty area and I think that is very important.’