Knight: Pompey may already have central midfield answer

That's the friendly action over with, now it's finally onto the League One campaign.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 31st July 2017, 8:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:43 pm
Carl Baker Picture: Neil Marshall
Carl Baker Picture: Neil Marshall

Yet one big question remains – the centre of midfield.

Obviously, Pompey need to move a few players out before recruiting anyone, with some positions overloaded.

Strengthening central midfield has been identified by the manager, Michael Doyle has not been replaced and a little more bite is needed over the course of the season.

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However, I have been impressed with Carl Baker’s displays alongside Danny Rose in the past two friendlies.

He once again featured in the role during Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Crawley and I believe can establish himself as a playmaker for Pompey.

The former MK Dons man has got his teeth into it, demonstrating his range of passing, picking players out and emerging with plenty of credit.

Perhaps he might save the club a few quid.

Saturday was a real test for Kenny Jackett’s side and it was always going to be tough, despite talk of supposedly poor Crawley performances against Bognor and Brighton.

Harry Kewell’s side had a proper go, they put their foot in and demonstrated a physicality which maybe caught us a little bit by surprise.

Once we got through that we demonstrated a steel within us and stood up to them, especially in the second half.

I thought Kyle Bennett had a good game, particularly in the first half. He was a real bright spark and you can see how our full-backs will be a threat during the season.

But it was Brett Pitman who stole the show with two superb second-half strikes, and it will be interesting who plays up front with him.

I think the manager will look to start his skipper with Conor Chaplin, with Kal Naismith as an alternative.

Pitman has already caught the eye since his arrival, although I do think Crawley’s goalkeeper should have done better with his free-kick for the first goal.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great strike. But Glenn Morris was stood that side of the goal and should have dealt with it.

Perhaps that is me nit-picking, but if it was one of my goalkeepers I would be disappointed.

Also a special mention for Milan Lalkovic, who came off the bench to impressively create Pitman’s second goal.

Adjusting the mind set to friendlies can be difficult at times and in that respect they can be tough to play, yet the winger has really impressed during pre-season.

Perhaps he can even sneak a spot in the side for Rochdale’s visit.