Chaplin hungry to win Pompey starting spot

Carabao Cup First Round -  Cardiff vs Portsmouth - 09/08/17'Portsmouth�"s Conor Chaplin PPP-170814-130909002
Carabao Cup First Round - Cardiff vs Portsmouth - 09/08/17'Portsmouth�"s Conor Chaplin PPP-170814-130909002
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Conor Chaplin is out to stamp his authority on Pompey’s starting XI.

The Blues’ prized asset insists he is in the best shape of his life as he bids to become a regular under Kenny Jackett.

Chaplin amassed eight goals from 42 games on the road to the League Two title last season – but just 13 of those appearances were starts.

The academy product was given a key role partnering Brett Pitman up front during pre-season and started Pompey’s opening-day win against Rochdale.

However, the striker has not been involved from the offset since.

He was an unused substitute in his side’s 1-1 draw against Walsall last Saturday as Jackett still searches for his favoured system.

The 20-year-old featured for Pompey’s reserves against Southend at Westleigh Park on Wednesday and scored the only goal of the game in the 1-0 victory.

Chaplin also crashed a penalty against the bar in stoppage-time after being hacked down when one-on-one with the Shrimpers’ goalkeeper, Ted Smith.

He has now set his sights on winning his spot back in Jackett’s side.

‘The gaffer is still looking for the right system. Everyone wants to play and I’m no different,’ said Chaplin.

‘I had a good pre-season and we did well against Rochdale and got the win.

‘Since then, he’s tried a few different things and that’s part and parcel of being a footballer.

‘You have got to try and get yourself back in the team if you’re not in it.

‘If you are in the side, it’s your job to stay in it and that is no different with 

‘This season I feel a lot sharper and a lot fitter.

‘In the close season I always work hard and I’ve come back probably the fittest I have ever been.’

Jackett has tried various systems during the early stages of the campaign.

He’s trialled both Pitman and Kal Naismith in the number nine and 10 roles, as well as Chaplin.

Despite dropping down to the reserves, the Worthing talent was happy to get valuable minutes under his belt against Southend.

With the manager looking on, Chaplin stabbed home the Blues’ winner in the seventh minute from close range as the reserves reached the Premier League Cup group stage.

The forward insists he is comfortable operating either as a striker or in a number 10 position and believes it plays to his advantage.

He added: ‘It was nice to get on the goal sheet against Southend.

‘As a forward-thinking player, you want to score goals, no matter what sort of game it is.

‘To get on the pitch is the best thing for you when you haven’t been playing.

‘No matter what the game, it is good to have a run about

‘I was disappointed not to score the penalty at the end to make it 2-0, but I’m happy to have netted.

‘I am able to play in both the number nine and 10 roles.

‘To be honest, I’m not too fussed on which one I play in,

‘I enjoy both positions and it’s good to not have just one position.’