Appleton considering Varney first-team start

113932-901_POMPEY_FOREST_SR_5/11/11'Action from Pompey vs Nottingham Forest at Frattom Park.'Luke Varney on the ball.''Picture:Steve Reid 113932-901
113932-901_POMPEY_FOREST_SR_5/11/11'Action from Pompey vs Nottingham Forest at Frattom Park.'Luke Varney on the ball.''Picture:Steve Reid 113932-901
Pompey hero Paul Walsh

Pompey favourites reunite for Baffins’ stand launch

0
Have your say

Michael Appleton is weighing up whether to grant Luke Varney a Reading start.

The fit-again forward is back in the Pompey frame after missing 13 matches with a knee problem.

He made his comeback as a substitute for the final 25 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough.

Thankfully, there was no reaction to the medial knee ligament injury which had previous sidelined Varney since December 10.

Pompey have scored just twice in their past six matches as they fight against relegation to League One.

Now they face Championship form team Reading tonight in the hunt for precious points.

And Appleton admitted Varney was in the reckoning to make his Madejski Stadium line-up.

He said: ‘Maybe Varney will be ready to start.

‘He looked okay on Saturday and looks quite fresh, but I am aware we have got a lot of games, so starting him has to be at the right time.

‘Whether he will get an hour in the game tonight, we will make a decision.

‘He is one of the players who can hopefully kick-start and spark something very quickly for us.

‘Luke has been out since December and been chomping at the bit.

‘He’s an infectious character, has a fantastic personality and is going to play a big part in whether we stay in this division or not.

‘He is big enough and bold enough to take that responsibility on his shoulders.

‘Hopefully we keep him fit but, more importantly, if we keep him fit he will cause problems for anyone.’

Varney netted five goals in 17 matches before sustaining injury at Burnley during a collision with the goalkeeper.

It has restricted him to just two games during Appleton’s tenure – much to the Blues boss’ frustration.

His return offers the option of a strike partner for Marko Futacs – a genuine alternative to fellow attackers Dave Kitson and Benjani. In addition, Varney can operate on either flank.

His versatility is important following the loan departures of Liam Lawrence and Erik Huseklepp.

But while there is brighter news on Varney’s fitness, Kelvin Etuhu will again be absent tonight.

The midfielder has missed the past three matches with a hamstring problem. Instead, he is pencilled in for a return at Brighton on Saturday.

And, steadily, it appears Pompey’s injury situation is clearing up.

Appleton added: ‘There has been no reaction to any of the lads, which is something to be pleased with.

‘Although, Kelvin Etuhu will miss tonight. It could be more like Saturday when he will be back.

‘Reading are probably the most form team in the division at the minute so it’s going to be a tough match.

‘We’ll be up for it, though, as we always are. I can only ask the players to try to do their best.’