Loan star will get Pompey fans on their feet
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has been backed to excite Pompey fans with his hard running.
And Guy Whittingham believes the Blues’ loan recruit from Peterborough can strike fear into opposing defenders.
Mendez-Laing has made three appearances since agreeing a month’s deal at Fratton Park.
The 20-year-old has caught the eye with his determination to engage opposing sides with his runs.
Mendez-Laing’s move to Pompey emerged following a breach of club discipline at London Road after an incident at a Peterborough nightclub.
But the winger has got his head down following his arrival as he looks to earn himself a move away from the Championship outfit.
Whittingham has certainly liked what he has seen from the player so far, particularly his work on the front foot.
The Pompey caretaker boss highlighted a willingness from the Birmingham-born player to do his defensive duties.
It’s Mendez-Laing’s ability to get at opposing sides – and get supporters on their feet – that he really likes, however.
Whittingham said: ‘Nathaniel will go direct.
‘He had one run against Doncaster recently where we thought he was going to put it in the corner but he dragged his shot.
‘He’s very direct and works back for you as well.
‘Nathaniel has that ability to excite people. He can run at defenders – and defenders don’t like that.
‘If someone has the ability to do that and is quick, that scares people off. I think there’s more to come from him.’
Whittingham and Andy Awford have been able to use the weekend without a game to have an extended period in which to begin to put their ideas across to the players.
In the four weeks since Michael Appleton’s departure, it’s been a case of the Blues going from game to game and preparing the team for each fixture.
Whittingham has noted occasions when players have been trying to operate in the same areas of the pitch as each other.
That has been the case with Mendez-Laing, when a charge forward has seen him attack areas are already occupied.
Those nuances are the kind of problems the coaching staff have now been able to focus on.
Striking up an understanding with the front men he will be working closely with is an area for improvement.
Whittingham feels those kind of issues will improve the more the players play together.
He said: ‘One thing you can’t replicate is playing together. There’s no substitute for that.
‘Nathaniel’s had a promising start and people can see what his abilities are.
‘Players will get to know him and won’t necessarily go into the area he wants to run.
‘They’ll stay out of those areas and allow him to get in there.
‘Then they can be available for him in different areas.
‘They will switch on to that and people will see better from him.’