Cook to make Pompey changes as he bids to strike it rich

Paul Cook has revealed he will be making changes to his Pompey side for Saturday's trip to Exeter (3pm).

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:06 pm
Pompey striker Michael Smith Picture: Joe Pepler

But the Blues boss has called for patience as he aims to strike up a winning combination from his impressive attacking options.

Cook is keen to allow all four of his front men – Michael Smith, Curtis Main, Conor Chaplin and Noel Hunt – the chance to stake their claim for a starting role.

That’s after giving his backing to out-of-sorts Smith, who has failed to find the net in three starts this term.

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Cook said: ‘There will be changes this weekend.

‘That’s because we don’t watch ourselves at the minute and go: “yeah, we look good.”

‘We watch ourselves at the minute and we are huffing and puffing.

‘So we will continue to tinker with it in the reality of it clicking into place.

‘But we have only played four league games.

‘Curtis Main has played a game – Michael Smith has played three games.

‘Noel Hunt hasn’t made his debut and Conor Chaplin hasn’t started either.

‘The reality is we don’t know (the best option).

‘We will just keep working our way towards it and over a period of games, once we have a run of results, we can then look back at them and say: “they played well together”.

‘The worry for us at the minute is that when teams line up as they do it is difficult for lads in those four positions at the top of the pitch.

‘It’s a lot more difficult than people are giving them credit.’

Smith dropped out of the match-day squad for last Saturday’s 2-0 home triumph over Colchester – the Blues’ first win of the season.

In his place, Curtis Main was handed a start but, like his predecessor, found space and chances hard to come by in a lone-striker role against stubborn opponents.

Cook has since vowed to look into changing his preferred 4-2-3-1 line-up at Fratton Park.

He added: ‘With all due respect to Michael Smith, there is no space for him.

‘You can’t put balls in behind teams who are set up on their 18-yard box.

‘The reailty of the first three games is that we wanted better results.

‘But we have the fire-power within the club and everyone must be given chances.

‘Curtis Main now symphathises with Michael Smith a lot more.

‘He’s no good neither!

‘Come on, now you are getting to know how the lads actually feel.

‘These aren’t bad players – we are talking about good footballers.’