Conor Chaplin suited to role in Pompey system

Conor Chaplin celebrates his second goal with Jayden Stockley at Privett Park.  Picture: Steve Reid Blitz Photography
Conor Chaplin celebrates his second goal with Jayden Stockley at Privett Park. Picture: Steve Reid Blitz Photography
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Conor Chaplin believes he can thrive in the role behind the strikers in Paul Cook’s Pompey set-up.

The 18-year-old forward scored two goals, including the late winner, in the 3-2 success at Gosport Borough to give the Blues their first victory of pre-season.

I am less of an out-and-out striker and see myself as more of a number 10 who can get in those pockets of space behind the striker

Conor Chaplin

The Academy graduate made nine appearances for the first team last term and registered his maiden senior goal in the 3-1 loss at Morecambe in April before he was handed a first start in the final game of the campaign.

Although he has been tipped for a bright future, there is intense competition for places – especially in the attacking positions.

But the teenager showed he can be a real threat in the positions behind the main striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation with his pace and movement causing Borough problems.

Chaplin said: ‘That position is more me. I am less of an out-and-out striker and see myself as more of a number 10 and a player who can get in those pockets of space behind the striker.

‘It’s more my game. I like running at people, rather than playing with my back to goal.

‘I think I showed last season that I can do that job but playing against men in League Two is completely different.

‘To be able to play in a few different positions is going to help me in the future.

‘I used to play up front for the youth team or just behind the striker.

‘It means you can get the ball into the striker and get it back so you are facing the goal.

‘And I think I am at my best when I have got space to drive with the ball.’

The system certainly worked for Pompey in the first half with Chaplin linking up with with Kal Naismith, Theo Robinson and Jayden Stockley as the players frequently interchanged their positions.

Chaplin explained: ‘In that role, you can’t be one-dimensional and you can’t be obvious in what you are doing.

‘You’ve got to mix it up and having players who can play in all of those positions is going to help us.

‘Opposition teams will not know who is coming or who is going where.

‘So the more variation you’ve got, the better.

‘Obviously, we have got a lot of very good players who can play in those positions and there is a lot of competition. But I enjoy playing there.’

Chaplin, who won the League Two apprentice award at last season’s Football League Awards, played down the significance of his double at Privett Park.

And he was more concerned with some vital fitness work.

He said: ‘It’s not about results in pre-season. But it’s nice to get a first win and on a personal note, it was nice to get two goals.

‘It’s a good platform going forward.

‘To play 90 minutes this early on is tough but it’s needed to get match fitness.

‘Towards the end of the game and the last 20 minutes or so, you start to hang on in there to keep going but that is a crucial part to get your fitness for the season.’