Cook: Striker has a home at Pompey
MICHAEL SMITH has found a home at Pompey.
And being a wanted man under Paul Cook is allowing the striker’s confidence to thrive again.
Smith’s partnership with Gary Roberts has been hailed as the Blues bid to continue their improving form against Stevenage today.
The front man goes into the clash on the back of two goals in as many games and in resurgent form.
The 25-year-old has battled back from a challenging period after signing from Swindon in the summer.
Smith went nine league games without a start for Cook’s side after an opening to the season which saw his confidence ebb.
But the manager stated he always felt the hitman had a major part to play for Pompey moving forward.
He feels, however, it’s key the appreciation he has for Smith is echoed by the Fratton faithful.
Cook said: ‘Michael’s a good player – he’s just lost his way in football for 12 months. That’s the reality of it.
‘I think he’s found a home now where he knows he’s loved by us.
‘We’ve got great, great belief in Michael Smith as a player.
‘When you see him on Tuesday night you see his finish, and it’s such a good finish.
‘It’s such quality and it’s a finish of a really confident player.
‘When you are not confident you take a slash at it.
‘What happens is the goal on Saturday gives him an injection of confidence.
‘What we have to do is do our best to support all of our players while they’re here. That’s just my opinion.’
Smith renewed his link-up with Roberts as he led the line for Pompey at Luton on Tuesday.
It was the return of a partnership which served the Blues well last season.
Pompey picked up seven wins and a draw from the 10 games when the duo played together.
Cook knows the pair have an understanding which allows them to work well in tandem.
He feels that’s increasingly the case in all areas of the pitch as link-ups develop all of the time for his side.
‘We were virtually unbeaten with them in the team until the Plymouth game at home last season,’ said Cook.
‘That was a game we never looked liked losing, too.
‘They did well at places like AFC Wimbledon. They are good players. Both of them.
‘Good players play well together – that’s the simplicity of football.
‘On the pitch there are good partnerships.
‘The Gareth Evans and Carl Baker partnership is getting stronger and, in the last couple of games, has been very strong.
‘Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens have always been a good partnership and are still strong.
‘I just think that’s part of the game.’