Injured duo earmarked for Pompey return

Michael Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler
Theo Widdrington in Pompey training. Picture: Sarah Standing

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Michael Smith and Kyle Bennett are poised to make their comebacks against Salisbury tonight.

Smith has yet to feature in Pompey’s pre-season fixtures having collected a calf problem in training, an issue which kept him out of the tour to Ireland.

Meanwhile, Bennett has missed the matches against the Hawks and Sutton United as a precaution following a knock.

He previously lined-up against Sligo and Bohemians during the squad’s week-long stay in the Emerald Isle.

Now Paul Cook has pencilled in the pair to feature in this evening’s trip to Steve Claridge’s Whites (7pm).

The Blues boss has already said he anticipates Paul Jones playing his first match of the summer following injury.

The goalkeeping situation continues to be an issue as Cook strives to strengthen in that area.

And Pompey are expected to field a stronger side than the one which suffered a 2-1 defeat at Sutton on Saturday.

Cook said: ‘The injuries are getting better to be fair and the like of Kyle Bennett and Michael Smith could feature tonight.

‘Unfortunately Matthew Clarke is not as good as that and we are still looking at him.

‘We gave minutes to a lot of the lads on Saturday and we go again tonight.’

Salisbury won the Wessex League last season under former Pompey favourite Claridge.

The Fratton Hall of Famer also spent 23 matches as manager of the Blues, before dismissed in February 2001.

The hosts have named former Pompey apprentices George Colson, Josh Warren and Elliot Wheeler in their squad.

And director of football is ex-Hawks boss Mick Jenkins.

– NEIL ALLEN