McGurk: Midfield competition can bring out best in us

ADAM McGURK insists he is revelling in the competition as he attempts to force his way into Pompey’s midfield.

Friday, 21st August 2015, 7:01 am
Pompey attacking midfielder Adam McGurk Picture: Joe Pepler

It’s a case of seven players vying for three spots in Paul Cook’s attacking midfield in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

During the Blues’ League Two fixtures so far, Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts and Gareth Evans have been given the nod in the opening three matches.

That has left McGurk and Conor Chaplin on the bench, while Kal Naismith is struggling with a thigh injury.

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Pompey attacking midfielder Adam McGurk Picture: Joe Pepler

In addition, there is also Ben Tollitt, who arrived from non-league football in the summer.

Ulsterman McGurk has already made his mark, netting on his Pompey debut during a start against Derby in the Capital One Cup.

He was also a lively introduction from the bench in the midweek draw at Crawley.

And the former Villa man is keen to beat off the challenge of his rivals to get into the side on a regular basis.

‘There are definitely a lot of options, we’ve got seven players for those three spots at present,’ said McGurk.

‘You can see there is a lot of competition for places.

‘As a player you need to be as fit as you can and you need to be as focused as you can because everyone is a good player at this club.

‘You’re aware you are not going to just walk into this side, whereas at other clubs you know you’re going to play.

‘You can’t be like that. It doesn’t matter who you are in the team, if you are not producing the goods, are not as fully fit or working hard in the team shape then you won’t be picked, it’s as simple as that.

‘Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett, Gareth Evans, Ben Tollitt and Conor Chaplin are other competition for a place, while Kal Naismith has tweaked his thigh but is another.

‘It is all about competition for places and if you want promotion – which everybody does – you need to be at your peak every week.

‘That competition is only going to help you and I’m doing all I can to try to get into the side.’

McGurk made 41 appearances and scored seven goals as Burton won the League Two title last season.

Of those outings, 30 came in the starting line-up as the 26-year-old shone.

Yet he believes there is a more intense competition for places at Fratton Park.

‘At Burton there was possibly not as much competition as here,’ added McGurk.

‘We had a smaller squad and the majority of the team played, there were changes only rarely.

‘It’s up to the manager if he wants competition for places and it is good, it keeps everyone on their toes.

‘Even in every training session you have to perform.

‘I know it sounds clichéd but you can’t be sacking it off and think “it’s alright I’ll be playing Saturday”.

‘You definitely can’t afford to do that here.’