Appy: Veteran strikers can’t cut it any more

Kanu and Benjani are not in Michael Appleton's plans for the survival run-in  Picture: Robin Jones
Kanu and Benjani are not in Michael Appleton's plans for the survival run-in Picture: Robin Jones
Theo Widdrington in Pompey training. Picture: Sarah Standing

Hawks boss keen to sign Pompey youngster on loan

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Michael Appleton has ef-fectively written off Benjani and Kanu from his Pompey plans for the rest of the season.

The Blues boss has become increasingly frustrated by the African duo’s fitness and does not believe either of them now have the physical capability to last even 45 minutes of Championship football.

Neither striker has started a game under Appleton, who now fears that age has finally caught up with both of the Fratton favourites.

Kanu – currently sidelined by a back complaint – last made a Pompey appearance under the caretaker management duo of Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray way back in October while Benjani’s last start was also under the duo’s leadership.

But while Pompey have netted just twice in the past eight games ahead of today’s showdown with Bristol City, Appleton insists he must look elsewhere for the firepower to help his side beat the Championship drop.

He said: ‘The message I will be sending is that I certainly wouldn’t be expecting too much from Benjani and Kanu in the run-in.

‘I will let people judge however they want with regards to Benjani and King (Kanu).

‘From Benji’s point of view, he has been involved enough and come off the bench enough to ask questions on why he might not get a start.

‘Yet again, King didn’t train again this week because of his back so I’m not sure what else to say.

‘He’s not fit enough to play – end of story.

‘Benji has not trained for the past eight days with a calf injury. But I can’t afford to start playing players who I don’t think will get through 45 minutes of football.’

The 35-year-old Kanu and 33-year-old Benjani each have just one goal to their name this term.

And while Appleton would appear to have options at his disposal in the striking department, none have pressed their claims with prolific strike rates.

He said: ‘There are options, but you’ve only got to look at our goalscorers’ chart.

‘You can talk about goals as much as you want or whether you play one, two or three strikers.

‘The facts are that we’ve got Erik Huseklepp, who is not with us any more, on six goals. Luke Varney, who has missed most of the season, is not match fit and is just coming back, on five goals and David Norris, who is a midfielder, is on five goals.

‘That pretty much says everything.

‘I could have 25 strikers at the club but if none of them are above five goals, they are not going to be much use to anyone.’

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Stephen Henderson finally completed his move to West Ham yesterday in a deal which should net Pompey a loan fee of around £700,000.

West Brom midfielder George Thorne also extended his loan stay at Fratton Park for another month.