Roberts: Bennett’s bravery crucial to Pompey

Kyle Bennett in action against Leyton Orient on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler

Kyle Bennett in action against Leyton Orient on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler

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  • Kyle Bennett made 51 appearances last year, scoring seven times
  • He has started four of Pompey’s opening 12 League Two fixtures this season
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Gary Roberts believes the bravery of Kyle Bennett can be crucial to Pompey’s away form.

The winger was recalled by boss Paul Cook for last weekend’s trip to Leyton Orient.

It’s not bravery going to kick someone – it’s bravery taking the ball

Gary Roberts

He responded by producing his best display of the campaign, emerging as one of the Blues’ most impressive performers in the 1-0 victory.

It has so far been a frustrating season for last term’s chief creator, with Milan Lalkovic and Kal Naismith jostling for his spot.

Bennett, though, can expect to retain his place for this weekend’s trip to league leaders Plymouth.

And Roberts is convinced the 26-year-old possesses the credentials to inspire another away triumph.

He said: ‘We had loads of energy and options at Orient and Kyle was terrific, I thought he was absolutely outstanding.

‘He got us up the pitch and kept the ball really well, giving us that benchmark for playing in our final third. Then we can try to get the little man (Conor Chaplin) into the box.

‘Kyle’s a good player, that’s exactly what he is, a terrific player with more ability than nearly everyone in the squad.

‘It’s about getting him into those positions. He looked after the ball really well at Orient, made some lovely passes and is so brave on the ball.

‘You need that bravery when away from home.

‘Kyle is so comfortable on the ball, he will take it anywhere in his own half.

‘He’s brave and away from home you need people like that – people to step up, be a man, take kicks and handle the ball.

‘It’s not bravery going to kick someone – it’s bravery taking the ball.

‘And he has that in abundance.’

No Pompey player created as many goals as Bennett last season, while he also chipped in with seven of his own.

However, Cook ramped up the competition on the left of his attacking three with the close-season recruitment of Lalkovic.

Naismith has also re-emerged to establish himself as a threat after appearing to be heading out of the Fratton Park exit in the summer.

The duo have conspired to reduce Bennett’s involvement in League Two action, with the winger not even making the squad at Exeter.

Regardless, the former Doncaster player has been a regular in cup fixtures – and has three assists in all competitions.

Having impressed against Reading under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy, he replaced Naismith in Cook’s team at Brisbane Road.

And Roberts is looking to see much more of him.

He added: ‘Kyle hasn’t really played this season.

‘Milan came in and did well – and Kal did also.

‘But, credit to him, his attitude has been top drawer and on Saturday it looked like he has never been missing.’

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