Cotterill backs striker to kick on

Pompey striker Dave Kitson
Pompey striker Dave Kitson
Milan Lalkovic. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey winger out until the new year

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Steve Cotterill hailed Dave Kitson’s Pompey desire after shrugging off personal heartache to inspire victory at Doncaster.

And he believes the former Stoke striker can now hit the goal trail once again.

It has been an anxious past week for Kitson, whose young son has been ill in hospital.

It raised the possibility the 31-year-old would not be in the right frame of mind to feature at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

Yet he insisted on carrying on regardless, declaring himself available.

The result was Kitson netting the first goal as Pompey pulled off a 2-0 triumph, Joel Ward grabbing the other. It also ended a run of 10 matches without a win for Cotterill’s men stretching back to December 11.

And the Blues boss paid tribute to brave Kitson’s commitment.

He said: ‘Kits has had a tough week and I’m really pleased for him.

‘We have given him today off.

‘We feel as though we need to give him a break.

‘Hopefully he can spend a little bit of time with his family and come into training tomorrow.

‘It was actually a difficult one with Kits whether he was going to play or not.

‘I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that his lad has been in hospital and it was only right up to 1pm on Saturday that I said to him “are you okay to play?”.

‘Does he want to play? Doesn’t he want to play? Is he switched on?

‘When you are looking at them before the game, it’s hard.

‘And he didn’t have the best of starts to the game, we felt.

‘But he got his way into it and maybe the goal gave him the little fillip to push on.

‘Hopefully Kits will have a good week ahead of him with his family.’

For Kitson, Saturday marked only his second goal in his last 16 matches.

It is in stark contrast to his early Pompey form, which saw him net four times in his opening eight matches after arriving from Stoke.

The downturn in goal-scoring fortunes also saw him suspended for two matches after a red card at Brighton.

But Cotterill now believes he can kick on and start banging them in once again.

He added: ‘For the first 20 minutes I wouldn’t say Kits was on his game or sharp.

‘But we do know when he is on his game, he is sharp and he’s got very good quality.

‘We just need to get balls in the box a little bit more for him.

‘I think all strikers suffer a little bit in confidence when they are not scoring on a regular basis.

‘He’s been up and down a bit but when they score one they can sometimes go on a little bit of a run.

‘Hopefully that’s the case with Kits.’