Hunt makes Pompey pledge to rival Chaplin

Noel Hunt wants Conor Chaplin's Pompey striking spot.

Tuesday, 15th November 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:50 pm
Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler

But the selfless Irishman is prepared to help his promising rival remain one step ahead.

Chaplin has finally established himself as the lone forward in Paul Cook’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system.

With five goals in his past 11 appearances, he has surged ahead of fellow contenders Hunt, Michael Smith and Curtis Main.

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The former has endured an injury-hampered start to life at Fratton Park, yet capped his recent reemergence by netting in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Mansfield.

The substitute finished Kal Naismith’s cross to open his goal account for the Blues.

Now Hunt is striving to maintain his push for a regular starting spot.

Regardless, he is prepared to continue aiding the development of Chaplin.

He said: ‘I have really enjoyed Conor’s goals this season. I love Conor, he’s a great lad, bright, a great finisher and is willing to learn – and in the game you can go far with that attitude.

‘If I can help him in any way in terms of a voice, then I am there to do it.

‘There is one striking spot in the system, that’s football, but no-one is going to get anywhere here individually.

‘You might get individual recognition at the end of the year for the player of the season, but as a club you won’t do anything on your own.

‘So, for me, you have got to be as tight as you can together, which is something the manager has also mentioned.

‘We need to get that glue and fight together – and we have started to do it, getting better and better at it.

‘Next week, if I am playing, great. If I’m not and am on the bench, I will be able to support the other strikers, I am ready to make an impact.

‘My aim is to help this football club and the team get promoted.

‘Right now, the short-term goal is to get ready for next Saturday.

‘Then the overall view is to look at where we can finish and help us move forward.’

Hunt’s Mansfield strike was a first goal in 11 appearances for Pompey.

However, his first-team presence as been restricted almost entirely to the bench, with an FA Cup outing against Wycombe the only start.

A groin problem recently contributed to his sidelining for seven matches.

But the ex-Reading forward is now fit and firmly back in the frame.

Hunt added: ‘I am starting to get there now, the injuries have cleared up.

‘I had a few niggles, I was playing for a few months with little things but now feel I have no pain and am ready to go.

‘I had a tight groin and, when that healed, because it involved my pelvis, my back then seized up.

‘It was just getting the mixture between the two, but now everything is good and I am ready to go.’