Paul Cook is weighing up sending Jack Whatmough out on loan next month.
However, the Blues boss admitted that idea may be scrapped in light of their central defensive shortage.
We wouldn’t want to throw Jack in at the minute, although every day that goes by he gets strongerPaul Cook
Christian Burgess’ ankle ligament injury ensured Matt Clarke lined up alongside Adam Webster at Northampton Town on Saturday.
The duo helped Pompey pull off an impressive 2-1 defeat to knock Chris Wilder’s side off the top of League Two.
However, Clarke’s loan from Ipswich Town is up for renewal on January 3 – with Whatmough the only other central defender in the first-team squad.
The Gosport youngster is progressing well having returned to training at the end of last month following a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Cook, though, is wary of throwing Whatmough back into first-team contention unless he has featured in up to three reserve matches.
But the central defensive situation has forced him to reassess the handling of the home-grown talent.
Cook said: ‘We wouldn’t want to throw Jack in at the minute, although every day that goes by he gets stronger.
‘If we have to throw him in, we have to throw him in, that’s footie.
‘But we wouldn’t want to throw him in, that’s for sure, without him playing some games first.
‘I would say that would be two or three really.
‘Possibly we thought about him going out on loan but at the minute we just wanted to get a couple of weeks under his belt before assessing him.
‘This week we will probably talk more seriously about what we think Jack should be doing.
‘Possibly the January window might have been a case of him looking at going out on loan – but now all of a sudden he might be staying to go into our team.
‘We can’t rush him back, though, not with him out for so long.’
Whatmough has yet to play any competitive football following his injury comeback.
The defender sustained knee ligament damage in March during a 2-2 draw with Cheltenham, ending his encouraging campaign.
Up to that stage he had made 12 appearances during the season, taking his Blues career tally to 32.
With Burgess now missing for a month, Clarke and Webster are Pompey’s only realistic options at centre-back at present.
However, Clarke has only three matches remaining before his loan expires – Leyton Orient, Luton and Crawley.
Pompey are keen to keep the 19-year-old, yet it remains to be seen whether Ipswich comply.
In the meantime, Cook is faced with having only Webster available for the FA Cup third round trip to the Tractor Boys on January 9.
That is unless Cook opts to throw Whatmough back into the action at Portman Road.