Jackett weighs up Pompey talisman’s role

Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler
Milan Lalkovic celebrates his goal at Newport. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Kenny Jackett is weighing up how to introduce the talismanic Kal Naismith into his Pompey starting XI.

And on Saturday the Scot will be handed the opportunity to shine during the visit of Bournemouth.

I think Kal is an asset for us and an asset for the club

Kenny Jackett

Naismith has been conspicuous by his absence from the Blues’ past two pre-season friendlies, despite being fit.

It means last season’s leading scorer has featured just twice in Jackett’s five summer fixtures so far.

For Naismith, though, it doesn’t represent a warning klaxon over his ongoing Pompey career.

According to Jackett, it is quite the opposite.

Since replacing Paul Cook, the Blues boss has been impressed with the attacking midfielder’s contribution – both on the training ground and in friendly competition.

And he has made it clear the ex-Rangers man has a role to play – including the visit of Premier League Bournemouth.

Jackett said: ‘Kal had a very slight groin injury which kept him out for a few days early on, but he is fully over that and has had a good pre-season so far.

‘I do see him as a forward player, wherever that happens to be. He got a good total of goals last year, has a very good left foot and is capable of playing a number of roles.

‘I think he’s an asset for us and an asset for the club.

‘Kal can definitely play wide in this team, most of his experience and when I’ve previously seen him has been at wide left.

‘Towards the end of the season he came into the 10 and nine positions and got some goals there, so he has that flexibility along the front line.

‘As any manager will tell you, in July it’s about getting the group together. If you just have the XI and something happens, you feel like you are in trouble, especially without the emergency loan window.

‘Kal is one of a number of talented forward players we have at the club.’

Jackett’s preference for his starting XI at Bognor to receive 90 minutes ensured Naismith was an unused substitute last weekend.

Then on Tuesday, with Pompey’s boss focusing on first-team training, Naismith was asked to remain behind and feature, leaving the reserves and fringe players to travel to Newport Isle of Wight with Joe Gallen.

Injury disrupted Naismith’s summer in 2015, while he was forced to train with the kids last year.

But Jackett does not foresee another miserable pre-season for the 25-year-old.

He added: ‘Sometimes for players the penny drops and confidence plays a big part as well.

‘For me Kal has had a good pre-season so far.’