Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett has given the reasons behind his decision to axe Ben Close from the club’s play-off run.
After missing out on the automatic promotion places in the League One table, Pompey lost on penalties to Oxford United in the play-off semi-finals, their second successive failure at that stage following a similar disappointment in 2019.
Close, who appeared 29 times in League One for Portsmouth, was dropped for the play-offs, with Jackett opting to select Bryn Morris and Cameron McGeehan in the central midfield places, and the latter missed the fateful spot-kick which ended their promotion hopes.
The young Portsmouth-born midfielder is an academy graduate at Fratton Park and has gone on to make a total of 162 first team appearances for the club.
Speaking on Close’s omission from the starting XI in the games against Oxford, boss Jackett told The News: ‘We had one central-midfield player on the bench in Tom Naylor for the play-offs, then I selected other players in other positions.
‘Ben would have been disappointed to have been left out and every player would want to play. We had a fully-fit squad at that particular time, but numbers are fewer now.
‘Ben has come back and trained very well during the first week or so.
‘He’s capable of fighting back and, if you’re looking at his games over the past few years, there have been a high amount for him.
‘That’s been good and he’ll want to continue that and keep improving.
‘As he’s getting into his mid-twenties, he’s just coming into the best time of his career.
‘It wasn’t as much as about leaving Ben out of the play-off games. It was that I thought McGeehan and Morris were the right players or the players in form at that particular time.
‘It wasn’t just about leaving Ben out, but it was selecting other people.’
It seems a strange decision from Jackett not to include Close for the play-offs, especially given his history with the club and consistent selection during the regular League One season.
The midfielder will be hoping to play a bigger part next year and help the club achieve automatic promotion.
Do you think Kenny Jackett should have played Ben Close in the play-offs? Let us know in the comments section below…
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