Cotterill admits midfield catalyst needs a break

Jonathan Hogg
Jonathan Hogg
Pompey forward Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

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He has been pinpointed as the catalyst to Pompey’s recent record-breaking surge.

But Steve Cotterill believes Jonathan Hogg’s batteries are now in need of a recharge.

And he admits, as a result, the quality of the combative midfielder’s once inspiring displays have dipped.

The Aston Villa loanee has made 15 appearances since his Fratton Park arrival in January.

His brand of guts, energy and fighting spirit have helped fill the chasm left by the enforced absence of Michael Brown.

Within weeks, Hogg emerged as a key performer in a side which would amass six-successive league victories to preserve their Championship status.

In the process, Cotterill’s men set a post-war league record of 636 minutes without conceding.

As the season peters out with the play-offs now out of reach, the 22-year-old’s displays have begun to wane.

Considering it is his first-ever spell of sustained regular first-team football it is to be expected.

Cotterill, though, remains full of praise for Hogg and his Pompey input.

He said: ‘Hoggy has done very well but I think he has plateaued a little bit.

‘Sometimes he hasn’t been getting a couple of the tackles he got to earlier in the season, sometimes his passing hasn’t gone quite where he would intend it.

‘It would be nice to leave him out for a game if you think he’s at a stage where it is getting a bit tough.

‘I think he is a great lad and he has come in here and given us something different.

‘His first game against Burnley was disappointing but he dropped into a real disappointing performance from the rest of the team that night.

‘I actually think there was a little upturn in our fortunes when he came in.

‘He set the tempo about two minutes into the match at QPR, he steamed into a tackle on the far side and everybody thought “hello”.

‘We had to get him because we lost Michael Brown and Richard Hughes, so we had to get somebody.

‘I am very thankful to Aston Villa and thankful to him that he wanted to come.

‘Hoggy is as strong as an ox, high intensity and always gets around the pitch, which is what you need in this league.

‘I don’t want to make excuses for the lad but he has just become a father for the second time and has had a few late nights with his partner over the last couple of weeks.

‘He had to whizz home quickly the other night when she had to give birth so he has had a busy period.

‘That has meant he has plateaued a little bit but he has done well for us.’

Hogg himself has spoken of enjoying his Fratton Park spell.

He believes he has blossomed playing regular first-team football for the first time in his career.

The midfielder has missed just one Blues match so far – when he sat out the home victory against Barnsley through suspension.

And Hogg has revealed he would welcome another loan spell at Pompey.

That is good news for his manager, who will again have to rely heavily on the loan market next season.

Cotterill added: ‘Hoggy always wants to play.

‘Liam (Lawrence) is a top runner but Hoggy is always top of the running stats.

‘If you see him with his top off and in the gymnasium, he is one strong boy, strong as anything.

‘He’s a great kid, as honest as they come and what we have got to bear in mind is these boys coming in here and sticking their necks on the line are loanees.

‘His commitment is absolutely first class.’