Foster: Smith unfortunate with Pompey
Michael Smith's lack of first-team presence has been described as '˜unfortunate'.
But coach Ian Foster believes the striker’s excellent attitude and work-rate can reap more Pompey outings.
The summer recruit was handed a four-minute cameo from the bench in last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Mansfield.
He almost netted with a smart back heel which shot just past the far post as the Blues hunted for more late goals.
It was the first time Smith had appeared in a league match since defeat at Blackpool in September.
The 25-year-old has, however, started two Checkatrade Trophy matches, while lined up for the reserves on Monday night.
And his display in the latter – a goalless draw against Wolves in the Premier League Cup – attracted praise from Foster.
He said: ‘Michael has been slightly unfortunate not to get onto the pitch, but his appetite for the game has not wilted any.
‘His appetite for the game against Wolves was first-class, his worth ethic was great, he got hold of the ball, linked the play, was a constant threat and ran channels.
‘His all-round game as a number nine was fabulous.
‘Everything about his display was positive and that is the Michael Smith we know and love and that is why we brought him to the football club.
‘He has that power, that strength, and when he adds that aggression to his game as well is a handful for anyone.
‘I don’t think confidence has been an issue with Michael, certainly in training he comes in and continually works hard.
‘He’s just been unfortunate at times not to get on to the pitch late for the first team.’
Conor Chaplin has started Pompey’s past eight League Two matches as Paul Cook’s lone striker.
Now fit-again Noel Hunt is in the frame, registering his maiden Blues goal in that victory over Mansfield.
Meanwhile, Curtis Main is presently injury, while Jamal Lowe will link-up with his new club in January.
There is plenty of first-team competition for Smith to fight his way through at present.
Foster added: ‘Competition for places is rife.
‘Conor is playing really well with Gary (Roberts) off him, Noel Hunt has affected games he has come on lately.
‘Michael is working hard, putting in plenty of effort and that’s all he can do.’