McNulty happy to partner up at Pompey

Marc McNulty welcomed the arrival of new Pompey striker Michael Smith and insisted: I am happy to play in a 4-4-2 formation.

Pompey striker Marc McNulty Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Marc McNulty Picture: Joe Pepler

McNulty has been a focal point of Blues boss Paul Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system in recent weeks.

However, the transfer deadline day capture of ‘big man’ Smith on a 93-day loan from Swindon Town saw a switch in formations for Pompey’s midweek trip to Morecambe.

For only the second time this season, Cook lined up playing 4-4-2 – pairing Sheffield United loanee McNulty and Smith in attack.

And it would have been a triumphant start for the newly-formed strike duo had it not been for an agonising stoppage-time equaliser from Shrimps goalkeeper Barry Roche in the 1-1 draw.

Regardless, McNulty is excited at the prospect of continuing alongside the new man in attack.

He said: ‘I have played a lot of 4-4-2 before.

‘Personally, I quite like 4-4-2.

‘It gives you something a bit different – especially with the big man Smith coming in.

‘I am looking forward to playing with him.

‘Sometimes if we need to change it up we can play it in to him and play off him.

‘It’s good to have something different in the team.’

The Blues entertain Leyton Orient this afternoon, keen to close the gap on League Two’s automatic promotion places.

Cook’s fifth-placed side begin the day six points adrift of Oxford United, who are third.

And while elements dictated McNulty and Smith were left battling balls in the winds at Morecambe, the former is hoping for a return to passing football this afternoon.

‘Conditions at Morecambe were testing – it was very windy, so hard for me and the big man to judge when the ball was coming up,’ said McNulty.

‘Hopefully, today, we will try to keep the ball down and play our passing game.’

While Pompey were busy recruiting Smith on Monday, McNulty inadvertently upset fans at his parent club.

That’s after the Scotsman, who has netted seven goals in 16 Blues games, saw a post he sent misinterpreted by Blades supporters on Twitter.

He said: ‘A Sheffield United fan asked me if I was coming back and if there was a recall.

‘I sillily replied “no”, not thinking, which is the truth because I am signed here until the end of the season and there is no recall in it.

‘But the fans thought I meant the whole thing, that I wouldn’t be going back at all.

‘That’s not the case – I stated to them afterwards that it was a silly mistake from myself that I have learned from.

‘I have another year at Sheffield United, so as it stands I will be going back there in the summer.’

McNulty, though, reiterated he would be interested in staying beyond his current deal.

‘I would be open to staying if Portsmouth expressed an interest,’ he added.

‘I am proud to be at such a big club, but the ball is in Sheffield United’s court.’