Michael Appleton has told Kanu: I need you to be fitter to get back into my plans.
The veteran Blues striker has not featured lately and has made the squad just three times since Appleton’s arrival back in November, with his last appearance coming way back in October at Ipswich.
The gifted Nigerian last started a match in the 0-0 draw with Bristol City way back in August, and has just one goal to his name this season – an equaliser after coming off the bench at home to Cardiff a week later.
While a back complaint has affected him recently, Appleton admitted it is general fitness that currently means the 35-year-old has been deemed surplus to requirements – even though his Pompey contract runs until the end of the 2012-13 season.
Appleton said: ‘The thing with King (Kanu) is he has been carrying a bit of a back problem for a while now.
‘To be fair to him, he has trained for the majority of the past couple of weeks and he is getting a little bit fitter.
‘But it was just a sheer fitness thing with him at one point.
‘He wasn’t really able to finish a few of the training sessions and my concern with him is that when you train within the smaller areas, King is King – his touch and little short passing can be very good.
‘But if I need him to go on with 15-20 minutes to go, I’m not sure he can get about the field when we really need to stretch a team.’
Whether Kanu – who famously scored Pompey’s FA Cup winning goal back in 2008 – can force his way back into the reckoning will depend on his fitness and injuries to Appleton’s other strikers.
But the Blues boss knows that time is not on the former Arsenal striker’s side as a glittering career nears its end.
He said: ‘It’s probably down to a bit of both with regards to injury and his age but I think the injury has cleared up. From an age point of view, he is getting to that stage of his career where he is the wrong side of 30 these days.’