Whittingham steps up search for defender

Guy Whittingham
Guy Whittingham

Guy Whittingham today stepped up the hunt for the final piece in his Pompey jigsaw and declared: We have to have the right character.

The Blues are hunting for a defender to bolster to their ranks as the anticipation builds ahead of the League Two curtain-raiser against Oxford on Saturday.

That’s after talks broke down to bring Ricardo Rocha back to Fratton Park.

Rocha has now returned to Portugal, with his days with Pompey at a close.

Sam Sodje has been a player who has been on the backburner as an option for Whittingham throughout the summer.

The 34-year-old could now come back into the equation after making nine Blues appearances at the end of last season.

Pompey are exploring other avenues, however, with Whittingham and assistant manager Steve Allen using all of their contacts.

Their strategy has been to bring the average age of the squad down, although an exception was made for Rocha after his success with the club.

Whether the same would apply for Sodje remains to be seen, though.

Whittingham has made it clear he is looking for the correct fit for a club who will have the fans’ expectations to deal with this season.

Not only that, but the eyes of the football world will be on Pompey as the UK’s biggest community-owned club.

Whittingham said: ‘I think you have to look into their character.

‘There is pressure on us being the big team in the league we’re in, supposedly.

‘Other teams will look at playing us and think they’d love to put one over us.

‘Every game at Fratton Park will be teams looking to play in a great atmosphere.

‘We have to make it hostile – but we also have to have the players on the pitch who can handle that.

‘They need to be able to handle that extra bit of media attention, too. We’re a sole community club.

‘People will not only be looking at us to see if we can go up – they will also be looking at us to see if the community model can work.

‘So the players have to buy into the fact it is a community club and go out there and be part of that.

‘When we see these guys we have to make sure they are prepared to do this. It’s massive for us.’

Pompey’s squad includes 19 senior players, with five development squad players.

Ten new faces arrived during the summer, with many turning down better deals elsewhere.

Whittingham said: ‘I think we’ve been very lucky as a club and management team.

‘There are players with us who could have better financial rewards elsewhere.

‘We couldn’t afford to pay that in our situation.

‘But the big pull is Portsmouth Football Club and the big fanbase we have.

‘That’s the reason we’ve got quite a few players.’