Appleton craves Huseklepp consistency

Erik Huseklepp against Peterborough at London Road. January 28, 2012. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120332-2553)
Erik Huseklepp against Peterborough at London Road. January 28, 2012. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120332-2553)
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For POMPEY boss Michael Appleton, there have been too many flash in the pan moments.

Now he wants Erik Huseklepp to consistently shine for the Blues.

And he has challenged the enigmatic forward to produce a Peterborough repeat performance on Saturday.

It was a star show from Huseklepp at London Road last weekend – with two goals in Pompey’s superb 3-0 victory.

That haul capped an impressive all-round display from the Norway international, who was asked to operate in a role behind Marko Futacs.

While the 27-year-old’s ability has never been in question, he has struggled to catch the eye on a regular basis since he arrived at Fratton Park in August.

It’s a frustrating side to Huseklepp’s game and one of which Appleton is fully aware.

But now the former West Brom assistant manager wants all that to change.

Appleton said: ‘That’s my biggest gripe with Erik.

‘People see bits of flashes of skill he can produce – he will drop his shoulder and beat a couple of people – but for me there is not enough end product.

‘Sometimes he is a little bit too much of a flash in the pan here and there and goes missing for five or six minutes.

‘That second goal of his (at Peterborough) is one I would expect Erik to score more often.

‘He doesn’t do it enough and that is not me being over-critical of him, he knows that and I’m on to him all the time.

‘Against Peterborough, though, he did ever so well for us and stayed in the game throughout.

‘He had a role to play, I asked him to do that role to the best of his ability and thought he did really well.

‘He’s a little bit in and out, one of those players where his biggest and best attributes are his attacking abilities.

‘All I am trying to do with him at the minute is make him aware of what defensive responsibilities he has.

‘If I’m not doing it, we have got people on the field at the minute who are making sure that – when we do lose possession of the ball – he gets himself in good positions.

‘And I thought he did that well against Peterborough.

‘Everybody would have looked at his two goals and thought “well done”.

‘But the thing that pleased me more than anything was how he was out of possession.’

Dave Kitson was dropped to the bench at London Road to accommodate the Norwegian in his new role.

Huseklepp himself has been in and out of the side since October, rarely starting successive matches.

The need to tighten up on the flanks away from home has also ensured the forward has been among the substitutes on occasions.

Yet he received the nod ahead of Kitson at the weekend – responding with a man-of-the-match performance.

And the result emphatically rubberstamped Appleton’s tactical decision.

The Blues boss added: ‘There was a game plan and against Peterborough Erik was the best person in the squad to do that role.

‘Erik was in a more advanced role – playing close to the striker – and he got his rewards.

‘It was nothing personal towards Kits.

‘I spoke to him and he was aware that was the way we were going to go because we’d been working on our shape in the week in training.

‘I watched Peterborough play the last three games and all three teams played the same sort of formation.

‘I felt the players utilised that well and Erik was the best option to play off Marko rather than Kits.

‘It may be different against Hull, who knows, but I think it proved we got it right with Erik scoring two goals.

‘It might be someone like David Norris does that really well, too, hopefully in a couple of weeks time we might have a few options.’