Paul Cook has tipped a ‘reinvigorated’ Kyle Bennett to continue proving his Pompey worth – and told Blues fans: back him.
Winger Bennett is set to retain his place in Cook’s side for today’s visit of Notts County to Fratton Park (3pm).
That’s after impressing in Pompey’s past two outings, following a four-game absence from the starting line-up.
Bennett has had his detractors among the Fratton faithful since arriving at the club from Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2015.
But the 26-year-old responded to an extended spell on the sidelines with a lively display in the 1-0 win at Leyton Orient and a well-taken goal during a classy performance in the 2-2 draw at Plymouth last Saturday.
That opened his scoring account for the campaign – and Cook believes there is plenty more to come from the attacking talent, who is eager to succeed on the south coast.
‘Kyle Bennett has found a new lease of life – that has come through in his training and everything else,’ said Cook.
‘These lads now have had the experience, especially Bennett, of Portsmouth Football Club.
‘He feels the pressure now to deliver and it is a good pressure. That’s why our fans shouldn’t get after him.
‘These aren’t machines these lads, these are good lads.
‘Kyle Bennett wants to be successful here, so much it is untrue.
‘Back him. He works hard and he does everything right.
‘His goal last Saturday was a culmination of a good week on the training ground for Kyle.
‘His first-half performance at Plymouth was “wow”.
‘He has been reinvigorated.’
Cook admitted he had heard calls from a section of fans to leave the wideman out of his line-up, following an indifferent start to the campaign.
But the Blues boss remained steadfast in his conviction Bennett is a man he can not only trust but who also has the ability to become a ‘very special player’.
Cook said: ‘I trust Kyle.
‘As manager of the club, previous managers will have felt that pressure to change.
‘I feel that pressure. But the only way you can change is if you feel you are going to make something better.
‘If you don’t, then you can’t.
‘And Kyle is one of the lads at the club I definitely trust.
‘If he adds end product to his undoubted talent, you have got a very special player on your hands.’
Cook has now called on Bennett to win over his doubters after acclimatising to life on the south coast.
‘I think our lads are experienced in Pompey now,’ added Cook.
‘We have had that much turnover in players that no-one gets time to feel the good, the bad and then do something about it.
‘Kyle has had the good and the bad and it’s up to him to now do something about it.’
n Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain has joined Eastbourne Borough on a month’s loan.