Crawley v Pompey: Pre-match talking points

Kenny Jackett. Picture:  Daniel Hambury/PA Wire.
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire.

Pompey boss: Pitman has his ideal role

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Will Rooney looks at three talking points going into Pompey’s pre-season friendly at Crawley

Who will play in centre-midfield?

It’s a question most of the Fratton faithful have in the forefront of their minds heading to the Broadfield Stadium.

Summer departures Michael Doyle, Amine Linganzi and Stanley Aborah have left a void that needs filling in Pompey’s engine room.

In the Blues’ pre-season fixtures against the Hawks and Bognor, it was Adam May who was picked to partner Danny Rose in the middle of the park.

The Academy graduate has returned from a successful loan spell at Sutton United buoyed with confidence and desperate for more first-team action.

May possesses the brilliant ability to spread raking passes all over the pitch from deep areas and can quickly start attacks.

However, in last Saturday’s friendly against Bournemouth, Jackett opted to choose Carl Baker in the heart of the midfield.

It was a new role for the former MK Dons man and one he debuted in encouragingly well.

Now 34, Baker may not necessarily have the same energy and legs he did previously to be an attacking threat down the right wing.

But what he does offer is experience, an eye for a pass and the ability to twist out of danger in tricky situations.

He too has the bite that Doyle provided and Pompey might be lacking in the central midfield area.

Of course, Baker’s signature is being pursued by Coventry which makes the situation murky.

There’s also Ben Close who has his name in the hat. Although he’s not been as prominent as May and Baker, the 20-year-old has chipped in with goals during pre-season and done little wrong.

Final chance to impress

It’s the final audition before the League One curtain raiser against Rochdale on August 5.

Kenny Jackett casts his eye one last time before the all-important clash at Fratton Park and his troops will know the importance of registering a solid performance.

Jackett will likely field the same, or very similar, line-up at the Broadfield Stadium as he did against Bournemouth.

However, nothing is yet set in stone, as the Pompey boss has stated.

The centre-midfield role has already been discussed.

At centre-back, Tom Davies has Jack Whatmough breathing down his neck and champing at the bit for a spot alongside Christian Burgess in the rearguard.

And on the wings, the hungry Milan Lalkovic will also be desperate to snatch a place from Kyle Bennett or Kal Naismith.

There likely won’t be any high-flying malicious challenges being thrown in but expect the intensity to be increased from previous games this summer.

Can Pompey get the momentum they need?

A loss against Premier League outfit Bournemouth is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Cherries have plenty of quality and the bank account Jackett and Mark Catlin could only dream of.

But a defeat is a defeat and it ended the Blues’ pre-season winning streak.

A successful summer campaign is far from the be all and end all. But installing confidence into the team is crucial.

Pompey face their second-toughest test of the summer against Crawley and a win would be huge for confidence and momentum going into the Rochdale game.