Kal Naismith handed Pompey starting challenge

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KAL NAISMITH has been told: Show us what you can do.

Pompey boss Paul Cook has thrown down the gauntlet to the attacker ahead of this afternoon’s showdown with Newport County.

Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

The manager has confirmed Naismith will start at Rodney Parade as the Blues look to cement the best away record in English football this term.

The 23-year-old will come in for his first full appearance in the league against the Exiles.

That’s after being restricted to 31 minutes of League Two football off the bench and a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy start at Exeter.

A thigh injury picked up on the eve of the season slowed the Scot’s progress.

Kal is now ready to play and show what he can do.

Paul Cook

Now Cook is preparing to let Naismith off the leash.

And he is doing that with a challenge to the former Rangers man to showcase the talent he has in his locker.

The Pompey boss has no doubt of the attacking qualities Naismith possesses, but believes he still has much to learn about the game.

With Gareth Evans beginning a three-game suspension for his red card at Cambridge United last weekend, the challenge for Naismith is to lay down a marker for an extended run in the side.

Cook said: ‘Kal’s ready to play.

‘He’s had a good pre-season but then lost a lot of minutes through not playing games.

‘Kal is now ready to play and show what he can do.

‘He’s had little good spells where he’s come on.

‘He’s looked bright and, in my opinion, has some really good qualities in him.

‘But he has a lot to learn, develop and improve.

‘But that can only come from playing games.

‘Kal needs to play. There’s a lot to learn.

‘He has great qualities but there are one or two things he must still work on.

‘Kal has the ability to hurt teams, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. That’s what he has to work on.

‘He has to learn that side of the game – and the Newport game will be a good learning curve for him.’

Naismith has made it clear he is ready and waiting to be given his chance when called upon by Cook.

He told The News last week that he’s gunning for a start after being forced to bide his time and wait for his opportunity.

Cook gave a light-hearted response to his thoughts, but said the onus will be on the summer arrival from Accrington Stanley to slot into a team who have produced a strong opening to the campaign.

Cook added: ‘Apparently, he said he was ready in The News.

‘I told him where my office was because he hadn’t come to tell me that!

‘But he is ready to play and he just needs to be ready to play.

‘He’s coming into a side that’s been quite successful so let’s stay with it.’

Meanwhile, Rommy Boco will be part of the Pompey squad today after returning from his loan at the Hawks.