Season is finished for Rocha – but Whittingham wants him back

Ricardo Rocha celebrates with fans after the win at Crewe - a highlight of an otherwise tough campaign for the club. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ricardo Rocha celebrates with fans after the win at Crewe - a highlight of an otherwise tough campaign for the club. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey fans may have seen the last of Ricardo Rocha.

Guy Whittingham certainly doesn’t hope so and has already held discussions over extending the Portuguese defender’s Fratton Park stay.

Yet the veteran centre-back has been ruled out of tomorrow’s match once again with his hamstring problem.

And it remains uncertain whether the popular former Porto man will commit to another Pompey season.

The League One finale at Shrewsbury will see Sam Sodje once again partner Gabor Gyepes in the heart of the defence.

Although back in training, Rocha is not yet ready to even make the bench.

It leaves him stranded on 97 appearances for the Blues – a record that spans three divisions.

The 34-year-old remains in Whitingham’s plans for the League Two campaign – and has been told as much.

But the Pompey boss is unsure what the outcome will be.

He said: ‘Ric is one of the ones on our list, obviously.

‘But we are not going to tie him to one of the floodlights so he doesn’t go away,

‘We will just try to make sure we do everything we can to keep him because he loves the club and people love him.

‘But, at the end of the day, we have to stay within (financial) restrictions and if it can’t be done, it can’t be done.

‘If he says “I don’t fancy League Two” then we are not going to force him.

‘We want people here who want to be here but we are hopeful something can happen.

‘We want to keep as many of these players as we can because they have been through a lot, they have experience and know what it is like to play here.

‘Especially people like Ricardo, who has got so much respect for everybody here, the fans, the club, all the staff.

‘We’ve had a couple of discussions, they will remain private.

‘It might be possible, it might not be possible.

‘I like Ric. He is the type of guy you want in the trenches with you.

‘He fights for you and does everything he can to help you win games.’

The hamstring injury has already ruled Rocha out of Brentford and Sheffield United.

Nonetheless, he has still played 21 times for the Blues since being brought back by Whittingham in November.

The former Spurs man didn’t have a club at the time, despite trials at Leeds and Ipswich.

And Whittingham is convinced Rocha can keep going for another season yet.

He added: ‘He looks after himself. He knows his own body, so age is not a restriction as far as I am concerned.

‘It’s his hamstring. He is back in training but it just isn’t right.

‘Probably next week he will be fit, so he’s a bit disappointed.

‘I think he has another year in him, for sure I do. He is a part of what we have managed to do in the past couple of months.’