Pompey boss praises Bennett’s response

Kyle Bennett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kyle Bennett. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Kenny Jackett insists Kyle Bennett remains a key man for Pompey in League One.

The winger was surprisingly left out of the match-day squad as the Blues lost 1-0 to Rotherham last Sunday.

Bennett was an indispensable figure in Pompey’s title-winning League Two campaign last season.

He amassed 39 appearances and scored six goals as the Blues bagged the championship on the final day of the campaign.

Bennett featured heavily under Jackett during pre-season, while he also started the first few games of the season.

However, the former Doncaster Rovers talent had to watch his side’s loss to the Millers from the Fratton Park stands – just days after he was the subject of interest from Wigan on transfer deadline day.

Blues boss Jackett has been pleased with how Bennett has reacted to missing out against Rotherham.

The attacker bids to win his spot back when Pompey travel to AFC Wimbledon today (3pm).

Jackett said: ‘Kyle has had a good week of training and I have been pleased with him.

‘Getting the best out of him and getting the ball to him is a big thing.

‘He can be an effective player for us.

‘It’s not a situation where I’m leaving him out of the team for the sake of it.

‘If he’s the right player at the right time and he’s produced the goods in training, I will be having a look at him.

‘I’m sure a lot of people would have been surprised by the decision to leave him out the squad.’

Bennett formed a strong partnership with Enda Stevens last term.

The duo knew linked up fluently down Pompey’s left flank.

However, Bennett now faces stiff competition for a spot in Jackett’s squad.

Deadline-day signing Matty Kennedy has identified the left-wing as his strongest position, while Kal Naismith and Milan Lalkovic can function in the role.

Jackett believes Bennett is at his best when he has an overlapping full-back partnering him.

And Pompey’s boss feels the winger can play on both flanks.

‘Kyle’s strongest position was playing on the left-hand side when he had a very strong full-back coming on the outside of him,’ Jackett added.

‘It was a big partnership with Enda and early season it looked the same with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.

‘He does need that option of an overlapping full-back.

However, I see him as a player who can play either side.

‘I wouldn’t say he has to just play on the left-hand side.

‘He is capable of handling the ball well and he can create chances.

‘It’s a new group forming in terms of the left-hand side.’