Pompey hoping Curtis can resolve left-sided issues
THERE were auditions for seven prospective candidates, yet ultimately Kenny Jackett couldn't unearth prized left-sided creativity.
Now there is a potential solution to the season-long problem – Ronan Curtis.
Irrespective of operating systems consisting of 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, Pompey have largely been unproductive from attacking areas down the left under Jackett.
Jamal Lowe has thrived on the opposite flank, with eight goals and seven assists, while Gareth Evans offers excellent competition.
Yet weakness on the left wing has generated an imbalance – with Curtis a possible answer.
Although a striker, the 22-year-old has chiefly proven an effective presence on the left of the attacking three during the past year-and-a-half at Derry City.
What’s more, Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Noel King has also identified it as his best role.
It’s that flexibility which offers Pompey the opportunity to finally resolve such issues in Jackett’s team set-up.
Kal Naismith finished up as the Blues boss’ favoured choice, yet managed two goals and no assists in 12 matches while serving specifically in that position during the 2017-18 campaign.
Irrespective of that poor end product from his left-winger, Jackett still preferred the former Accrington man to Cardiff loanee Matty Kennedy.
Certainly, there can be some sympathy for Kennedy, who generally looked an attacking threat – yet fell out of favour midway through his loan spell.
Kennedy contributed three goals and three assists in 21 outings, at times catching the eye with trickery and crossing, despite favouriting his right foot.
However, Jackett didn’t trust the Scot in defensive situations, particularly when called upon to assist his left-back when under pressure.
He believed Naismith could offer such solidity, providing a balance down the left to complement Lowe’s defensive work-rate on the right flank.
It partly explains why Kennedy started only two of Pompey’s past 15 matches – and the loan will not be turned into a permanent arrangement.
Milan Lalkovic had impressed Jackett on the left during pre-season, sufficiently enough to be pencilled in for the opening game of the campaign against Rochdale.
However, injury intervened on the eve of that fixture – and subsequently restricted him to two outings before his January release.
Kyle Bennett was given the wide left role for the opening three matches of the campaign, yet never started there again under Jackett.
Instead, he was often handed the number 10 role, before leaving on a free transfer for Bristol Rovers in January.
Incidentally, Bennett bagged one assist and no goals during his 21 Pompey appearances this season.
Connor Ronan and Dion Donohue also briefly featured on the left, as did the ever-developing Lowe.
In fact, of Lowe’s eight left-flank appearances, he failed to contribute either an assist or a goal. Contrasting his output elsewhere in the team.
Now the focus is on Curtis and whether he can provide that missing inspiration.