Jackett highlights key man in Portsmouth's promotion bid

Kenny Jackett has pinpointed Tom Naylor as a key figure in Pompey's promotion bid.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 12:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:15 am
Pompey midfielder Tom Naylor

The Blues boss feels the midfielder has emerged as crucial cog in his side's bid to make it to the Championship. 

The 27-year-old has missed just a single league game this term and played every minute of the League One fixtures he's been involved in.

Jackett feels Naylor's combative approach have been embraced by his side's supporters who appreciate the qualities he brings to the table.

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Pompey midfielder Tom Naylor

The Pompey boss also believes the summer arrival from Burton Albion has benefitted from nailing down a single position anchoring the midfield.

That's something which didn't happen at his former club, where his versatility saw him moved between defence and the middle of the park.

Now Jackett can see the benefit of momentum to Naylor's game and how important one of his side's unsung heroes is proving to be.

Jackett said: '˜I like Tom.

'˜He's been doing very well and given a good contribution.

'˜Last year in midfield we had a lot of injuries to players like Danny Rose and Stuart O'Keefe, established players.

'˜It wasn't our strongest department, although Ben Close had a good year I felt.

'˜We really needed some physical presence in there, someone with some defensive ability, and Tom's given that to us.

'˜Our supporters respond to him very well and it's needed.

'˜For him, he's been quite a variable player for Burton, although Burton's way is to change their personnel and formation around a bit and it's quite a strength of theirs.

'˜For me at the moment he's in a nice rhythm. It's given us the chance to work at the role as the season has gone on - and that's good.

'˜He's worked at it. We've got a settled side and that's allowed he and us as a group to work at it with him.

'˜I think he's proved to be a good signing for us and a good player.'

Pompey's defensive record remains the best in League One with just 18 goals conceded from 22 games.

 There's been 10 clean sheets picked up the way and Jackett feels Naylor's role in that record shouldn't be underestimated.

Jackett added: '˜Looking at the defensive record people will naturally say back four and goalkeeper.

'˜That's true but as a defensive midfield player he's been important to that.

'˜It's something, that if you want a good defensive record, you need to nail.'