Harley happy to be Pompey's flexible friend
FOUR FOOTBALL matches, three different positions.
For Blues boss Michael Appleton, the versatility of Jon Harley is proving a useful tool in his skeletal squad.
What’s more, the former Chelsea man has performed with much distinction in his ever-altering remit to further enhance his value to Pompey.
And he’s loving every single minute of it.
Having started 10 successive matches at left-back following his summer arrival on a free transfer, Harley was moved up to the left-hand side of midfield at Yeovil.
He kept that position for the trip to MK Dons, before reverting to full-back duties in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Wycombe.
On Saturday, the 33-year-old was instructed to play on the right of a midfield four.
It was a decision from Appleton which may have raised a few eyebrows among the Fratton faithful.
But Harley responded with a man-of-the-match display, inspiring a 2-0 success which lifted the Blues to their highest league placing of this season.
For the much-travelled player, though, his latest reinvention has not been too difficult to adjust to.
Harley said: ‘The other season I played a few times on the right for Watford.
‘It’s not a position that I’m unaccustomed to. It’s not too different to playing on the left for me.
‘If we all do our jobs, it’s easy enough for me to play there.
‘You play all over in training. I’m comfortable playing in any position, really.
‘As long as I can be out there starting, it doesn’t matter where I play.
‘Cutting in on the right does bring out a different part of my game. I enjoyed it on Saturday, but I think everyone did.
‘If we can carry that on in the way we did things, it can be positive for us.’
Pompey have now picked up 10 points from a possible 12 in recent weeks.
That followed a run of three successive defeats, which came to a head in a hugely-disappointing loss at Notts County.
Since then they have defeated Scunthorpe, Yeovil and Crewe and drawn at MK Dons – all in the league.
The only blip was the abject exit from the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to League Two Wycombe last week.
Regardless, it has been a marked improvement in league fortunes.
Next up is the visit of Shrewsbury to Fratton Park this weekend as the Blues aim to extend that run.
And for Harley, Saturday’s response to that Wycombe defeat suggests the team are now firmly on the right track after a sticky start to the campaign.
He added: ‘We were looking for a reaction from Tuesday – and we got it.
‘We’re on a good run in the league and there was a lot of positives to take from that.
‘We really wanted to get in the Crewe players’ faces and press them.
‘We got the reward for that in the first few minutes with Wes’ (Thomas) goal.
‘The way we were set up was spot on. We were able to put them under pressure and got our rewards.
‘Our work-rate was a big thing and our centre-forwards were a big thing in that. They started us off.
‘We kept Crewe relatively quiet with the way we played and we have to build on that.
‘It was a good all-round display.’