Painful memories – but Hunt ready to be Pompey lone striker

Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler
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  • Noel Hunt scored 39 goals in 162 appearances for Reading
  • Striker made Pompey debut as a second-half substitute against Carlisle
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Solo striking act Noel Hunt once received stitches in his head after tangling with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford.

Nonetheless, the former Reading man insists he would relish being asked to serve as Pompey’s lone forward.

Vidic split my head open, I had to come off two or three times in the first-half because they couldn’t stop the bleeding

Noel Hunt

The 33-year-old finds himself in the frame for tonight’s trip to Coventry City as manager Paul Cook shuffles his side.

The EFL Cup fixture represents an opportunity for the Blues to utilise their large playing squad and eke out match minutes.

For Hunt, the possibility of featuring in a likely 4-2-3-1 system is not one to be feared.

During the Royals’ Premier League existence, he was often challenged to serve alone in a 4-5-1 formation under former bosses Brian McDermott and then Nigel Adkins.

A March 2013 visit to the Red Devils resulted in a 1-0 defeat, with Hunt turning out for 70 minutes.

He still has the scars to show from that encounter, yet wouldn’t hesitate reprising the role if called upon.

He said: ‘At Reading, for a couple of years we often played a 4-5-1 formation.

‘I remember going to Old Trafford to take on Vidic and Ferdinand on my own and got busted open and required stitches.

‘Vidic split my head open, I had to come off two or three times in the first half because they couldn’t stop the bleeding.

‘It was great fun, though, seriously! I loved it, I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of running about and getting involved.

‘The system at Portsmouth is a new one for me, I have never seen it before, but it is pretty much a similar role for the lone striker.

‘The only difference is there are certain triggers we have in a 4-2-3-1, focused on getting your danger players on the ball, and I think it is a great formation.

‘When you get someone on the ball, that is when you come to life, that is where the one person up front is so important.

‘My actions depend on where the ball is, you have to think about the game a bit more and sometimes stay away from the ball and not get involved. It’s about different thinking.

‘A lot of teams are starting to go the way of the 4-2-3-1, sometimes changing to match-up with you, which is a compliment.

‘Whatever the system, though, as a striker my job is still to score goals.’

Hunt made his Pompey debut as a substitute for Danny Rose in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Carlisle.

He featured for eight minutes as the hosts tried to break down the opposition’s 10 men after Jamie Devitt’s sending off.

And the former Republic of Ireland international admits he is still feeling his way back.

He added: ‘I want to be a bit quicker, I am not timing headers and that comes when you have been back two or three weeks during the season.

‘I have to concentrate on quick feet, jumping and getting myself back in and ready for the rumble.

‘Whether you are playing one or two up front, there will be some games we have to go for it with more strikers on the pitch.’