Kitson told to carry on leading the line

113878-0798_PALACE_POMPEY_SR_1/11/11'Palace vs Pompey at Selhurst Park.'Dave Kitson.'''Picture:Steve Reid 113878-0798

113878-0798_PALACE_POMPEY_SR_1/11/11'Palace vs Pompey at Selhurst Park.'Dave Kitson.'''Picture:Steve Reid 113878-0798

Noel Hunt is out for the rest of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mansfield v Pompey: early team news

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Dave Kitson has made no secret of the fact he’d prefer a strike partner alongside him.

Like most forwards, the Pompey hitman would rather have someone to work in tandem with and lighten the workload as he goes about providing his team’s cutting edge.

Michael Appleton knows what’s good for Kitson isn’t necessarily good for the team, however.

Appleton has opted to use Kitson as the team’s figurehead with support in wide areas and from David Norris behind him.

The result of that has been four unbeaten games after ditching the 4-4-2 formation in the defeat in his opening game in charge at Watford.

Appleton believes the 31-year-old has adapted well to what he has been asked to do.

The temptation to drop deep, as Kitson has admitted he has found himself doing in games, is something the Pompey boss feels he needs to avoid.

Appleton wants the player who should be his main source of goals operating in the area’s where he is most dangerous.

He said: ‘It’s not been hard at all to tell Kits what he has to do.

‘It’s been do you want to play in the team? Yes I do – well, this is where you’re playing.

‘Joking apart I’ve seen Kits play numerous times as a striker – an out and out striker, target man.

‘I’ve seen DVDs before I arrived which he did okay in.

‘Then when I witnessed the way the team was set up live at Watford it wasn’t for me.

‘So that’s when it was decided he has to play up there.

‘Kits won’t get bored if he’s playing the game properly.

‘To be honest, he’s done it really well in the last couple of games.

‘My biggest concern was watching a couple of DVDs when he did okay getting the ball deep a couple of times.

‘As the ball has gone into the box he’s still 15 yards outside it.

‘How’s Kits, as my centre-forward going to score goals like that?

‘I think the penny dropped a bit then.

‘If we get crosses into the box we need him in there.

‘If he doesn’t get the first header he puts them under pressure, and they then hopefully can’t get a good clearing header and we pick up the pieces.

‘There’s been numerous times of late when that’s happened and we’ve had shot after shot around the six-yard box.’

Appleton has been arranging some video viewing for his players of late, as he looks to get his messages over about the way forward for the team.

That has included highlighting the work of Luis Suarez, who Appleton believes is one of the best in the business at operating as a team’s figurehead up top.

He reckons the manner in which the Uruguayan is alive to the slightest opportunity is something Kitson can learn from.

Appleton said: ‘The best at it is Suarez and Rooney is up there too.

‘When Liverpool are defending take your eye off the ball and watch him and what he does.

‘Every time that ball gets cleared from Liverpool he’s on it.

‘What he does is mirror the ball.

‘If they are defending in the right-back position and the other team are attacking down the left he’ll mirror it so they can play the ball into him straight away.

‘The ball will get cleared and he will be in a position where he’ll be in and around it.

‘He never gets marked and he always comes off at angles to receive the ball.

‘I tell the players these things all the time.

‘We show them these clips. He does it really well and hopefully they take it on board.

‘If Kits is concentrating for 90 minutes he won’t get bored. He’ll have a lot to do.

‘It’s a sacrifice, but he has had opportunities in games to score.

‘If it’s a sacrifice which ultimately helps us win football matches then so be it.

‘I want strikers to score goals and if they are creating havoc for others to score goals that’s important.’

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