Written off – Pompey fighter Kal has struck back

Kal Naismith, right, celebrates his goal against Coventry in this seasons EFL Cup Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith, right, celebrates his goal against Coventry in this seasons EFL Cup Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett, right. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Pompey boss sees cause for attacking optimism

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Transfer-listed, instructed to train with the kids and omitted from the pre-season tour.

Kal Naismith had no future at Fratton Park.

Yet here he still is – the embodiment of a fighter who refuses to be beaten.

There is something gloriously uplifting about the sporting character who defies the fate inflicted by others to prove his worth.

Linvoy Primus rightly occupies Pompey’s Hall of Fame for stubbornly standing his ground to barrages of friendly fire.

Then there is Naismith, the unwanted midfielder ushered to the front door following a mere 12-month residence.

There was a stunning strike from distance against Northampton, a backheel at Hartlepool and that emotional finish at Stevenage – yet, largely, he struggled for an impact.

Following 22 appearances, more than half coming from the bench, Paul Cook wanted him removed.

If placed on the transfer list wasn’t an obvious hint, there was the ushering towards youth-team companionship.

Additional body blows arrived from being kept at arm’s length from all eight of the Blues’ pre-season fixtures – and a tour to Ireland.

Admirably, Naismith remained, however. He knuckled down to achieve the unlikely and transform the perception of his manager.

Demonstrating guts, tireless personal drive and an outstanding attitude, he has turned it around.

Not that his talent has ever been questioned. Cook’s belief in the ability of a player acquired for a nominal fee has never wavered.

Nor has the 24-year-old’s character been queried. Affable and approachable, unsurprisingly, he is a well-liked member of the squad.

Instead criticism has centred on his adaptation to the 4-2-3-1 system and the required application to perform within a team framework.

Cook has talked of trusting his players. By the summer he’d lost faith in Naismith.

Still, the Scot has instigated an unexpected U-turn and today was removed from the transfer list.

The season has seen Naismith force his way back into the squad, even dislodging Kyle Bennett from the bench in the past two matches.

Featuring in five of the opening eight matches, he scored at Coventry, won a penalty at Exeter and provided two assists at Yeovil.

Cook and his staff sought a favourable reaction from their under-performing player, they craved a winning response.

They now have it.

– NEIL ALLEN