Pompey boss: Kal's time will come, but maybe not yet

Paul Cook has pledged to hand Kal Naismith a first-team starting role.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Saturday, 17th December 2016, 9:19 am
Kal Naismith has made an important contribution coming off the bench for Pompey in recent weeks Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith has made an important contribution coming off the bench for Pompey in recent weeks Picture: Joe Pepler

But the in-form winger may have to bide his time until the Blues boss initiates his scheduled Christmas rotation.

Naismith has scored twice and created another during his past four appearances from Pompey’s bench.

It’s a perfectly-timed run from the Scot as the club prepare to head into a festive period of four matches in 11 days.

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Before then, Hartlepool visit Fratton Park tomorrow for the final home fixture of 2016.

Irrespective of whether Naismith receives his promotion against Craig Hignett’s men, Cook is planning changes further down the line.

And the manager is adamant the winger, along with the likes of Milan Lalkovic, will get starting opportunities during the forthcoming holiday period.

Cook said: ‘Kal has always been the same player. Like everyone, you have a job to do and when you get minutes on the pitch you must make people speak about you positively. Kal is doing that.

‘We are coming into a Christmas period now and, naturally, the team will change over that time.

‘The team which takes to the pitch against Newport will not be the team which takes to the pitch against Hartlepool, that’s the reality of this game. I can guarantee that.

‘We can win 5-0 against Hartlepool and it will not be the same team against Newport.

‘We are trying to be consistent in what we do, I have always believed in patterns and partnerships. When you give people that time to adjust you will always have hiccups along the way, but you have to look at the bigger picture.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt, Kal will get his chance, he is playing that well.

‘Whether he is in our team tomorrow or not remains to be seen, but by the time we get to Doncaster away he will have started games.

‘Kal can play in central areas. Last year at Wimbledon he gave a strong performance when we went with a diamond, with him behind Gary Roberts and Michael Smith.

‘We have a smashing squad. My job is to manage each player at the right time and keep everyone as high as I can.’

Cook could well opt to retain a winning team in his attempts at overcoming a struggling Hartlepool side.

And it’s not just personnel he plans to alter during Pompey’s busy schedule.

‘We have great options within the group. Over the Christmas period the one thing I can guarantee our supporters is they will see changes in formation, I can guarantee them it. It’s the truth,’ said Cook.

‘What we have got to make sure is we approach each game individually now, with the big target after each game not to debate how we play but how we win.

‘Lalkovic also needs more minutes because he is doing smashing, while Michael Smith, Noel Hunt and Conor Chaplin are certainly carrying that fight at the top end of the pitch.

‘The Stevenage result was really disappointing because if you take that game out we are on a smashing run. Unfortunately, that was a bad day for the club and that has now gone.’