Blues boss won’t rush new recruit

Steve Cotterill and Erik Huseklepp. Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-845)
Steve Cotterill and Erik Huseklepp. Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-845)
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Steve Cotterill insists he always planned to keep new signing Erik Huseklepp under wraps.

Pompey’s Norwegian forward made an exciting debut on Saturday.

The new signing from Bari completed his move to Fratton Park on Friday and came on as a late substitute in the club’s 0-0 draw at Bristol City.

But even though he entered the fray in the 86th minute, he showed enough in his short time on the pitch to suggest Pompey have found themselves a fine new recruit with a real ability to beat opponents.

Cotterill was forced to throw new signings straight into the side for most of last season to plug holes in his team.

But this season the manager is understandably keen to give his new recruits time to adapt to their new surroundings now he has more of a squad to choose from.

But having got a glimpse of what Huseklepp can do, most fans are now keen to see the new man given a start in Pompey’s next fixture.

Cotterill said: ‘I wasn’t going to start with him. I knew that.

‘It wasn’t just fitness. I just need him to understand everything on how we do things and he’s only been here a couple of days.

‘What I want to do is to try to integrate him gently.

‘We didn’t have that luxury last season but I think our fans will have been excited by what they’ve seen.

‘He was itching to get on with 20 minutes to go and I just wanted to make sure it was right.’

Huseklepp replaced skipper Liam Lawrence on the right-hand side late on and showed he is a player who likes to run at defenders.

More importantly, he appears to be a player who can add some real creativity and flair to the side.

Cotterill said: ‘He’s a good signing. People will have had a glimpse of him and been impressed, whereas he was a bit of an unknown quantity before.

‘We have needed a creative player. He might be able to unlock doors because he dribbles past people.

‘It was a good six minutes or so, for sure.

‘He opened the door a couple of times when he came on. He certainly looked lively.

‘We’re pleased to have him and he can be a good addition to the squad.

‘It just means we don’t have to flog people too hard these days.’

It will be interesting to see where Cotterill opts to use the Norwegian as he tries to blend him into the side.

Most fans who saw his introduction will now be eager to see him start against Cardiff next weekend.

And a role just behind the main striker could be the position the manager has earmarked.

Cotterill said: ‘It’s why I wanted this player because he will add a lot of different things to us.

‘He can play in a two up front, he can play off the striker, wide right, wide left and he’s got great feet.’