The Captain Conundrum

Last updated : 14 February 2011 By Jim Bonner
After Pompey's best defensive display of the season on Saturday, should captain Mokoena be drafted straight back into the side?

Ricardo Rocha's excellent performance has given Steve Cotterill a dilemma ahead of next weekend's game against Burnley, with the South African skipper looking to get his place back in the side.

But should he be able to walk back into the team just because he wears the armband?

After Saturday's showing at Doncaster, there is no way that Rocha can be dropped. If he is missing from the starting line-up then we'll know for sure that he and Cotterill have had a bust up and he hasn't missed out due to a so-called ongoing injury problem.

So would Mokoena come in at the expense of Greg Halford? The Wolves loanee has performed well at centre back recently due to being better with the ball at his feet. 

His towering height also gives Pompey the assurance that most of the long balls will be won, something that Mokoena can't guarantee as he only stands at 6'1'' (and whilst that may seem very tall, Halford is almost 6'5'').

Of course, there is the option to move Halford to right back and drop either Hreidarsson or De Laet but both have impressed in the last few games and so at this moment in time, I don't believe Mokoena should walk back into the side regardless of his captaincy.

Fortunately for him, it may well be that he gets the chance to shine in midfield on Saturday due to Jonathan Hogg's suspension. I always thought that Mokoena was out of his depth when playing in midfield at the top level, but maybe he'll get the chance to shine in the Championship.

What will be interesting to see is what Cotterill does when Hogg is available again. Surely "if it aint broke, don't fix it" should apply and therefore if Pompey keep another clean sheet against Barnsley then under normal circumstances I wouldn't see Mokoena coming back into the side.

However, because he is the Portsmouth captain there might be the situation where he becomes "undroppable". We had the same thing with Dejan Stefanovic once-upon-a-time too, despite being the weak link in the defence he was never dropped when he was a regular in the team.

Perhaps I'm overplaying the importance of the armband too much, though? The role of the captain isn't what it was and there are other players in the squad, such as stand-in skipper Liam Lawrence who have better leadership skills on the pitch.

The bottom line is that Aaron, although not a terrible player, should not be starting in Portsmouth's back four after Saturday's much improved defensive performance because he simply isn't good enough to displace any of the back four who played at the Keepmoat.

If we then go and concede three against the Tykes on Saturday, then we can talk about restoring Mokoena to the team.