Lalkovic spark impressing Pompey management

For 12 months Milan Lalkovic has craved to make the Pompey breakthrough.

Tuesday, 25th July 2017, 6:58 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:12 pm
Milan Lalkovic came on as a second-half substitute against Bournemouth PictureL Shaun Boggust

Now the forgotten man of the League Two title-winning squad has surged into the first-team frame.

Certainly, the change of management has rejuvenated the skilful winger during what has developed into a frustrating Fratton Park tenancy.

Kenny Jackett and assistant Joe Gallen were well-acquainted with the former Walsall man’s talents long before replacing Paul Cook.

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Now, under their tutelage, Lalkovic has caught the eye in pre-season.

It culminated in the 24-year-old appearing as a 69th-minute substitute for Kal Naismith in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth.

That represented Jackett’s sole use of the bench in the past two first-team friendlies as he focuses on his likely starting XI for the League One kick off.

It was also indicative of Lalkovic’s increased standing as he pushes for first-team consideration.

Gallen said: ‘Milan is someone we know from League One when we were at Wolves a few years ago and he was playing for Walsall.

‘We played him a number of times, he always played well, was always a threat and has always been able to go past his full-back.

‘Milan can cut inside and shoot, he can get down the outside with his left foot and stand it up and cross. It’s great he can go both ways and is not just a one-footed player, especially in the final third.

‘Basically, we have to whip him a bit to defend, which you normally get when you are playing an attack-minded wide player. We have to get him and Jamal (Lowe) back in defending for the team because they are part of a midfield unit.

‘So far Milan has shown a very good attitude and played very well in the games.

‘The first goal in any football match is the key one and he scored a very good opening goal at Newport which kind of set it up, while it was his shot which hit the post and Jamal tapped it in for the second.

‘Milan needs to keep going, he will probably say he needs a first-team chance soon, but he’s knocking on the door.’

Lalkovic is among a clutch of fringe players staking a claim for the campaign opener against Rochdale on August 5.

With Matt Clarke injured, at present Tom Davies is preferred to Jack Whatmough as the centre-half deputy.

Meanwhile, Adam May has moved ahead of Ben Close for one of the central midfield roles, although both missed out to Carl Baker at the weekend.

Then there is Lowe, the promotion hero so adored by Pompey followers.

Gallen added: ‘Milan and Jamal are not quite in the first team at the moment, but it’s some good back-up.

‘They must put pressure on the people who have the shirt – and Kenny wants two in every position.

‘We would also like to see others push through and into the team.

‘Drew Talbot has shown a great attitude, as has Jack Whatmough, while Ben Close is a neat and tidy footballer. There a number of players who need to take the shirts off the lads who already have them.’