Appy: Thomas can bring best out of McLeod

Izale McLeod, far left, joins the rest of his Pompey team-mates in congratulating Wes Thomas, third from left, for his last-gasp winner against Scunthorpe on Saturday
Izale McLeod, far left, joins the rest of his Pompey team-mates in congratulating Wes Thomas, third from left, for his last-gasp winner against Scunthorpe on Saturday
Nathan Thompson

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Wes Thomas is the man to bring out the best in Izale McLeod.

That’s the verdict of Blues boss Michael Appleton, who is convinced his new strike pairing can flourish in League One.

McLeod has struggled to win over the Pompey fans since his summer arrival.

That’s despite the former Barnet man scoring three goals to date, with the majority of his appearances partnering the currently-injured Luke Rodgers in attack.

On Friday, Appleton brought in Thomas on a month’s loan from Bournemouth in a bid to bolster his strikeforce.

The Cherries front man responded with the late winner against Scunthorpe on Saturday.

Yet it was his instant rapport on the field of play with McLeod which really shone for Appleton.

Pompey’s often-maligned striker also hit the post and crossbar during the game.

And the Blues boss believes he may have found the perfect solution to the enigma that is McLeod.

He said: ‘I thought Wes was very good against Scunthorpe. He was a nuisance.

‘And I would like to think he can bring the best out of Izale. That’s the idea.

‘Wes has got decent feet, will play with his back to goal as well as getting in behind, but his biggest thing is he is a nuisance for defenders. When they think they have a bit of time on the ball he is there closing them down.

‘I thought he was ably backed up on Saturday by Izale.

‘I would like to think as a manager and coach you would see things a little bit differently to maybe fans at times, with the greatest of respect, and I thought Izale was outstanding.

‘That was certainly the Izale McLeod I saw three or four times last year and I am aware of.

‘He has his bad moments when he gives the ball away and doesn’t do something correctly, but he has still got the courage to keep trying to do the right things and I thought his run at the end where he hit the post was fantastic.

‘He was so unfortunate not to get his goal but I thought his work-rate, runs and the way he went about it was very good – and I think it helped having Wes alongside him.

‘You have got to get balances right, whether it is pairs in your team, whether it is certain midfield players, whether it is a left-back and a left-midfield player.

‘I think they showed glimpses of what they possibly can do and, hopefully, they can take that into the Yeovil game.’

Rodgers has been the regular foil for McLeod this season, with the duo lining-up alongside each other six times so far.

In the process they have each netted three goals.

Rodgers is expected to be sidelined for another week at least, with his thigh injury creating an opening for Thomas.

But Appleton believes this current partnership can be more explosive.

He added: ‘Izale and Luke have probably not quite happened and I think they are probably the first to agree.

‘They have three goals apiece but have been more as individuals rather than a pair and it is getting that balance.

‘Sometimes to get a pairing right you need all summer and I know for a fact I would have had the right pairing on the this pitch under different circumstances – but I haven’t, so I can’t.

‘So we are trying to do the best we possibly can.’