The Defensive Dilemma – Options Available as Bolger Sits Portsmouth Game Out

Imps v Sunderland - Courtesy Graham Burrell

Tomorrow night we make the long trip down to Portsmouth for the first time in 37 years.

The last time our coaches hauled fans down to the south coast was 2nd November 1982. I didn’t go, what with it being a fortnight shy of my third birthday, but doubtless some of those making the journey tomorrow did go. They weren’t rewarded; we lost 4-1.

It was a rare defeat in the first six months of a season that saw us on course for promotion at Christmas and much of our success had been built on a platform of solidity at the back. Trevor Peake partnered Steve Thompson and both played that afternoon and both went on to play top flight football.

Tomorrow night, we won’t have the same stability at the back. With Michael Bostwick a month away from fitness and Cian Bolger rightly suspended for the next three matches, Michael Appleton has a big call to make. He’s going to have to pitch a makeshift central defender alongside Jason Shackell.

What it does is open up a real opportunity for someone to stake a claim for a first team place. At least three players could feature at Fratton Park who have not started a game in recent weeks, with two possible without a league start between them this season.

We look at the different combinations he might try, along with the pros and cons of such changes. Make sure you have your say on the final page too.


  1. Hate to be a pedant but there’s a typo in your headline ‘availabe’ (also in the URL). I’m sure you’d like to change it :).

  2. I hope I dont see Tyler Walker on the left again, if Akinde comes on again I would like to see him take up Paynes postion. Walker must keep that central position.

  3. This was the danger. Cowley had built a dangerously unbalanced squad. If Shackel, and ageing centre back, picks up an injury we really are struggling. Or if he picks up a card as he has form for.

  4. Fully agree with Malcolm. Walker needs to stay central as he is our only one goal scoring striker. That was an odd change last Friday…
    As for tomorrow I would play 3 centre backs with Melbourne and Eards around Shackell and Lewis/Toff as a wing backs…
    Little bit worried about tomorrow’s aerial battles in our box if am honest.. We all know how good Ragget is in this aspect….

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. You don’t always get what you deserve: Portsmouth 1-0 Imps – The Stacey West
  2. Big Defensive Decision Awaits Michael Appleton This Weekend – The Stacey West

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