Kenny Jackett opens up on big Portsmouth selection dilemma with ex-Sunderland striker James Vaughan in contention

Former Sunderland striker James Vaughan.
Former Sunderland striker James Vaughan.
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Kenny Jackett has a selection headache up front ahead of the huge promotion clash with Sunderland - with James Vaughan battling for a start.

The former Sunderland striker, who endured a difficult spell on Wearside during last year’s relegation from the Championship, is in contention to start at the Stadium of Light.

Vaughan and Oli Hawkins are battling it out to spearhead the Pompey attack, with Omar Bogle out injured.

Jackett has praised Vaughan - who came off the bench in their Easter Monday victory over Coventry City - ahead of the trip to Wearside but concedes he has a difficult decision to make.

Vaughan is on loan at Pompey from Wigan Athletic, the striker having joined in January. He is yet to score in eight appearances.

“Oli has done well against Sunderland this season, but similarly I thought James Vaughan did well when he came on against Coventry, I was very pleased with him,” Jackett told the Portsmouth News.

“Both of those are good options for me. With Bogle out injured, it’s a straight choice.

“Oli has been excellent against Sunderland in previous matches, as he has in many games. There are not many players of his type around, he’s a good asset for us.

“Will their back four be aware of that or will they rise to the occasion? You don’t know, but the fact he did well against the club should be good for his confidence.

“However, they have changed the centre-halves since those games when he did very well.

“Now they Jimmy Dunne and Alim Ozturk in the centre of their defence.

“Whether Oli starts or comes on, he's had a very effective season, I’ve been pleased with him."

On Vaughan, Jackett added: "James is a very experienced striker waiting for his chance. Obviously because of injury to Omar, it has now come about.

“On Monday it was 45 minutes each for our strikers and that was a good thing, defenders can get used to playing against forwards, trying to work them out.

“James has a little bit of everything, he attacks the first ball very well, he’s not as tall as Oli but leaps and can win the first header, while there’s his hold-up play, positioning and information to other people.

“On Monday it was a very good, all-round game for a number nine.”