Pompey boss sees central role for Naismith

Kenny Jackett is convinced Kal Naismith is best equipped to thrive within his Pompey set-up as a central attacker.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th January 2018, 11:27 am
Kal Naismith. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Scot’s League One campaign has been hampered by injury and long spells on the bench.

However, in the past two matches he has forced his way back into the Blues’ line-up in the number 10 role.

Naismith’s ongoing Fratton Park presence is still to be clarified, with time ticking down on the contract which expires this summer.

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Talks over a new deal have taken place for a number of months, yet ominously there has still to be a resolution.

In the meantime, Jackett sees Naismith as an important first-team presence.

And he believes the versatile attacker is most effective as either the number 10 or a centre-forward.

He said: ‘I think that is where Kal wants to play – and is probably his most effective.

‘At the right time he can play down the left, he has good delivery from there, but I wouldn’t think it’s his first love.

‘Being up and around the front positions scoring goals is his preferred position and also where I would see him being stronger.

‘The nine or 10, the front two positions, are his best positions.

‘Before his injury he had five games when he went between the two and sometimes in a wide-left area.

‘But we probably have more options in the wide areas now, particularly when Gareth (Evans) comes back, so hopefully we can keep Kal in the front positions.

‘He has a little bit of everything. He can get a goal, has some pace, a very good leap on him and – if he has the time and space – an excellent left foot.

‘I see his strengths as through the middle and up front.’

Having entered the final six months of his contract, Naismith’s potential availability is alerting other clubs.

Subsequently, he has been linked with interest from Northampton and Wigan.

Naismith’s stock remains high following his 15 goals in the charge to the League Two title last season.

However, under Jackett he has scored just twice in 18 appearances as he seeks to establish himself in the Blues boss’ side.

Jackett, though, has repeatedly stressed his admiration for the attacker’s ability.

Pompey’s manager added: ‘Kal had one opportunity in the second half against Scunthorpe when he didn’t get a shot in and Charlie Goode came back at him very well.

‘I was surprised because I expected him to get away and get a shot in. The centre-half half made a mistake and maybe Kal could have exploited it.

‘But I do see him in those situations, having enough pace and a very good left foot to be able to get goals.

‘It’s good to have him back following his injury, he has recovered well and is back in the team.’