Get reacquainted with Josh Knight, Peterborough United’s second returning hero in as many days

Just one day after Posh announced the return of Jack Marriott, they were at it again by bringing Josh Knight back to the Weston Homes Stadium.

By Ben Jones
Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 11:00 am
Josh Knight celebrated a goal against Oxford- Joe Dent/JMP.

Knight was one of the club’s top targets as soon as promotion to the Chamnpionship was confirmed last May. It took some time and it did, at one stage, look as if the deal wouldn’t happen as the player took time to survey his options, but Posh persisted and got their man.

A man who won himself many admirers during his two loan spells at the club, from Leicester, during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. He has now signed a three year contract after leaving Leicester after 15 years at the Premier League club.

He joined for an undisclosed fee after the Foxes took up an option to extend the defender’s contract at the end of last season.

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Knight finds the net against Sunderland. Joe Dent/JMP

Last season

Knight only ever made one League Cup appearance as a substitute for his hometown club and it’s been obvious for the last couple of seasons that there would not be a pathway for him to the Foxes’ first team.

The reason they extended the 23-year-old’s contract was because they knew they would be able to command a fee from one of his many admirers, following his performances last season.

One of the side effects of Posh being denied the chance to fight for promotion in the season before last was the fact they could not secure Knight on loan again as he went in search of Championship football. The extra gut punch came with that fact he found it with Wycombe.

Josh Knight, Frankie Kent and Ivan Toney celebrate against Rochdale. Joe Dent/JMP.

Given the extra responsibility and workload that came with playing at the heart of the Chairboys’ defence, he excelled. He made 37 appearances for the relegated side and was voted their ‘Player of the Year.’

He suffered personal disappointment late on when a harsh red card for a sliding challenge saw him sent off against Luton when Wycombe were leading in the second half. They went on to lose the game 3-1 and he had to sit out the next three as Wycombe’s late push for survival stalled and they ultimately missed out by a single point to Derby on the final day.

Where does he fit in?

Last season was when Knight staked his claim to be used in his favoured position of central defence. He was often used as part of a back three or in a centre-back partnership.

This will no doubt please Darren Ferguson who has changed between a back three and four multiple times, often during matches, in his latest spell at the club. During the run-in, the club settled on a back four with FrankieKent and Mark Beevers the two in the middle.

There is no reason Knight couldn’t force his way into that partnership, perhaps most likely ahead of Beevers, but he would also prove a valuable asset if Ferguson chose to deploy a three in response to the increased standard of the opposition.

There is also the flexibility of knowing that Knight can play in the centre of midfield, if required, even though he states that his preferred position is in defence and he wishes to play there.

Ferguson has confirmed that he has been signed as a defender, but he could be required in midfield, depending on how the pairing of Jack Taylor and Jorge Grant fare. If they prove to be too similar and both look to push on too much, leaving the defence exposed, Posh could require some of Knight’s steel in there to shore up the centre of the pitch.

Career so far

The debate about Knight’s position is a familiar one for Posh fans.

When he was signed on loan initially in January 2019, he played eight matches (six starts). In was signed as a centre-back, but was switched to the centre of midfield to great effect in a must-win game at Portsmouth in the penultimate game of the season. Knight was outstanding that night thanks to great athleticism and some tough-tackling as Posh won 3-2 to keep their play-off hopes alive.

That performance persuaded Darren Ferguson to sign him as a midfielder the following season when heearned a reputation as a box to box midfielder. He scored three times in 24 matches in League One, with his most memorable moment being his second half goal in the 3-0 rout of Sunderland at home in August 2019.

Both temporary spells were somewhat injury hit though. He limped off during his debut against Oxford after just 22 minutes in February 2019 and missed seven weeks of action. He was then ruled out with a muscle injury between the start of November and the end of January in his second spell. When he returned, he found Posh had switched to a two-man midfield and had to settle for coming off the bench in most matches, with Taylor and Reece Brown the preferred combination.

He has made 69 Football League appearances in his career so far and 83 in total when factoring in cup matches and the nine Football League Trophy appearances he made for Leicester’s youth sides.

He goes straight into the squad as one of Posh’s most experienced Championship players, despite just his one season at that level, but is carrying in excellent form and a willingness to be at the club after rejecting several other approaches in favour of a return to Posh.