Pompey boss: Trio possess different skill sets to succeed

Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman picked up a broken nose when scoring Pompey's opener against Fleetwood on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler

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Paul Cook finally has the forward options he spent a summer craving.

And he is convinced Conor Chaplin, Michael Smith and Curtis Main possess contrasting skill sets to make an impact in the forthcoming campaign.

Pompey’s pool of strikers number three following the close-season recruitment of Smith and Main.

Joining the developing Chaplin, who netted 11 times last term, it leaves Cook delighted with the calibre of attackers at his disposal.

The likes of Carl Baker and Milan Lalkovic can also operate up front, although primarily within a pairing.

Yet it is Chaplin, Smith and Main who will largely be the focal point of the Blues’ attack in the campaign ahead.

Cook said: ‘If you look at the forward line with Conor, Michael Smith and Curtis Main, we have three types which complement each other greatly.

‘I believe Michael Smith is the best target man in League One and League Two. That is my opinion, other managers may believe it is someone else.

‘Michael has got a fantastic touch, fantastic ability, and I think will become a favourite with the Pompey fans with a strong pre-season.

‘You don’t have to speak much about Conor Chaplin. Conor is Conor.

‘Curtis is coming in to hopefully give us more energy and, when we want to put teams under more pressure, a bit more physicality.

‘The age means potential, while there is a ruggedness to his play with how he runs with the ball and gets after people in games – it’s a little bit different with what we do.’

Of course, Pompey fans know plenty about Chaplin and Smith, having both featured in the goal stakes during last season’s sixth-placed finish.

Main represents something of an unknown quantity to the Fratton faithful, having served in League One in recent times.

He scored 11 goals in 58 appearances for Doncaster, while ended the season on loan at Oldham with four goals in 18 games.

And Cook believes he has identified a player who can shine at Fratton Park.

He added: ‘Curtis had a great start to his football career at Middlesbrough, he looked like he was going to be a new young star in the game and, for whatever reason, his career hasn’t taken off.

‘I feel it is important we try to work with those lads, there are sometimes hidden gems.

‘Nowadays we find out about players and people in 10 minutes on the internet, people will always look at how they have done.

‘With Oldham staying up and Doncaster being relegated, Oldham will probably speak really well about Curtis, whereas Doncaster probably won’t.

‘That is in the past, I would rather speak about us having a potentially really good player.

‘The problem for managers is potential won’t keep us our jobs, so it is important Curtis quickly harnesses his ability to his work ethic and gets up and running.

‘With love, handling, fitness and being in a squad, all of those ingredients go into making someone happy so they can perform.’