Varney out to sharpen blunt Blues

112985_BRISTOL_CITY_V_PFC_20/08/11''(right) Luke Varney and (centre) Jordan Spence. ''NPower Championship match between Bristol City and Portsmouth FC at Bristol. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-374)
112985_BRISTOL_CITY_V_PFC_20/08/11''(right) Luke Varney and (centre) Jordan Spence. ''NPower Championship match between Bristol City and Portsmouth FC at Bristol. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-374)
Danny Rose celebrates Pompey's win at Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘First class’ Pompey midfielder receives boss’ praise

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A single goal in open play from the past seven games tells its own story.

Pompey are desperately struggling for a cutting edge which will make the difference between Championship survival and relegation.

Even Michael Appleton is the first to admit his team have lacked a goalscorer this season.

Marko Futacs has carved an increasingly-isolated figure up front.

He has gone eight games without a strike, after a three-goal flurry when making his breakthrough.

But the return of Luke Varney has seen the man with arguably the greatest poacher’s instinct the Blues possess come back into the equation.

Not only that but the 27-year-old’s comeback after nearly three months out gives Pompey an injection of that rare, old gift which frightens defences: Pace.

That ability to get behind and around the side of defences is what has been missing.

Now Varney – along with the fit-again David Norris – is looking to provide that elusive threat over the final 12 games of the campaign.

Varney said: ‘Me and Chuck (Norris) have just come back. So hopefully we will be able to threaten more by running in behind.

‘It just stretches the pitch and it gives Marko a rest. It allows him to get in the box where we need him. Fingers crossed.

‘We’ve got a squad together now. Hopefully we can keep everyone fit and the gaffer can have a level playing field.

‘He’s not had that so far. We need to get fit and have a right good go.’

Varney is looking forward to lifting some of the weight off the shoulders of Futacs, now he is back in the equation.

The Hungarian was rested on Tuesday against Reading following a hectic period of starts after coming into the picture.

Varney took over the mantle from the 22-year-old at the Madejski Stadium on his return to the starting line up. The former Blackpool man believes they can make a useful partnership in the coming weeks. And that will enable the 6ft 5in forward to do what he is good at once again.

Varney said: ‘Bless Marko, he looks shattered, doesn’t he!

‘He’s heading it and trying to run on to it. It’s not his game, really.

‘Anything in and around him he’ll put it in the net. He’s shown that.

‘Hopefully we can get a few players in and around him in the next few weeks.

‘We need to get the best out of him but we’re not getting the best out of him playing like that. It’s no good him chasing flick ons.’

Varney insists Pompey remain united despite the squad slowly unravelling in the face of the need to generate finance.

Liam Lawrence last week followed Erik Huseklepp and Ryan Williams out of the exit door.

The Blues players are still doing all they can to help and Varney promises no-one is looking for the easy way out.

He said: ‘We have spoken as a group and there was no-one who really wanted to get out. It was an honest response.

‘Liam was a financial decision which benefited the club and fair play, it’s been taken. Hopefully we can get a few new recruits now and freshen the squad.

‘It’s not a front. The lads are trying to do what they can. It’s hard but the lads have stuck together.

‘It’s a massive effort. These fans are the best I’ve played under.

‘With them behind us we’ll have as good a chance as any.’