Pompey boss: Midfielder still has Fratton future

Milan Lalkovic featured for Ross County against Rangers on SaturdayMilan Lalkovic featured for Ross County against Rangers on Saturday
Milan Lalkovic featured for Ross County against Rangers on Saturday
Almost 50,000 bristled at Rangers' deeply disappointing home draw with Ross County.

Ibrox boos greeted Saturday’s final whistle, yet for Milan Lalkovic it was a wonderfully satisfying full debut.

County’s on-loan winger is beginning to find his feet since switching to the Scottish Premier League last month.

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For Paul Cook, Lalkovic’s absence is strictly short-term, with a future remaining fixed at Fratton Park.

The 24-year-old has made 16 Blues appearances since joining on a two-year deal from Walsall in the summer.

Frustratingly, of the past 10 occasions he was named on Pompey’s substitutes bench, he was unused for nine of them.

It prompted Lalkovic to request a loan move in the search for regular football – and Cook agreed.

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Yet the Blues boss refuses to write off a player he believes can still make a Fratton Park impact.

He said: ‘Milan is a fantastic lad and you always try to be fair to players.

‘He’s someone I get on very, very well with and one of those who can be disappointed not to have had as many minutes as they should have – and I always want to help those players.

‘Milan wanted to go out loan, it wasn’t a case of us forcing him. I always felt he had a part to play during the run-in, but could not guarantee him that.

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‘Milan’s a young lad who wants to play football and it’s a positive move for everyone, giving Milan the chance to go out there and keep his career going.

‘And I still think he has a career at Pompey, for sure.

‘Milan’s attitude to going out on loan was coming to me and I like that. I genuinely like people who want to play football.

‘I like to think I have a good relationship with all my players and we can speak to each other in a positive way. I will always help players who want to help me, and Milan is certainly one of them.

‘Milan is now out getting some games and that is beneficial for everyone.’

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Cook is certainly not short of attacking options at Fratton Park, with Jamal Lowe’s entrance pushing him ahead of Lalkovic.

Also armed with Kyle Bennett, Carl Baker, Kal Naismith and Gary Roberts, Pompey possess five players pushing for three places whenever the 4-2-3-1 system is rolled out.

That prompted Lalkovic to seek football elsewhere, with three appearances so far for the Staggies.

A second outing earned him a man-of-the-match tankard against Motherwell, following an impressive half-time entrance from the bench.

And Cook is hoping the ex-Chelsea product can shine.

He added: ‘Milan is a good player.

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‘When we have been structured in the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2, he doesn’t really fit those roles as you might like in terms of how certain personnel on the pitch might play.

‘Another example is Conor Chaplin, who looks like he plays better in a two.

‘Milan is very much an attacking player in the final third, so within that we haven’t been able to get him involved possibly as much as we would have liked.

‘So loaning him out was a natural thing and we wish him well, he’s a lovely kid.’