Cook backs Chaplin and Smith Pompey pairing

Conor Chaplin and Michael Smith   Picture: Barry Zee

Conor Chaplin and Michael Smith Picture: Barry Zee

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One game, two goals, three points.

Conor Chaplin and Michael Smith’s little and large Pompey partnership got off to an impressive start in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Leyton Orient.

And Blues boss Paul Cook believes the new-look strike duo can continue to complement each other’s games, with today’s trip to Crawley (3pm) offering a chance to build on the early promise shown against the O’s.

On their first start together, Chaplin netted both times – also missing a penalty – with rangy Smith’s hold-up play creating space for his diminutive partner to wreak havoc.

Cook, though, believes any potential pairing between the two will take time to develop – not that he has any concerns over picking them together.

He said: ‘All partnerships take time to develop.

‘But when you put players together, normally good ones can just play together.

‘Conor and Michael played together last Saturday and those two lads are excellent.

‘People will pigeonhole them as a little and large partnership – it’s just the way it is.

‘Michael’s job is to be a buffer for other players and we feel he does it excellently.

‘Look at the game, we have enough balls in the right area and everyone finds their feet.

‘If you are a striker you find an area of the pitch you like to play in – and you would like to think they complement each other’s games.

‘I wouldn’t have a worry about them playing together.’

Cook has favoured a 4-2-3-1 system throughout his 18-month tenure at the club, meaning Chaplin and Smith have had to wait for their chance to play together.

Indeed, striker rotation has seen four different players lead the line for Pompey this season, with Curtis Main and Noel Hunt also given opportunities to impress.

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