CONOR CHAPLIN is ready to be Paul Cook’s assassin.
The Fratton faithful’s favourite is out to live up to his billing as Pompey’s arch poacher next season.
And the teenage hitman has outlined his ambition for more playing time and goals in the new campaign.
Chaplin showcased his talent with 11 strikes as he made his breakthrough last term.
That established the Academy graduate as a darling of supporters after some memorable finishes.
The 19-year-old promised he’s taking his elevated status among fans in his stride.
But Chaplin’s out to live up to Paul Cook’s billing as a killer in front of goal.
‘The gaffer calls me an assassin and sees me as a number nine,’ said Chaplin.
‘It’s a massive confidence boost to be called that.
‘If I’m through on goal he expects me to score in a assassin-like fashion.
‘He’s said that to me and it’s a confidence boost he has that belief in me.
‘I’ve had the conversation with the gaffer about the support, too.
‘I know the fans sing the song. And being a Pompey fan for as long as I have, that means a massive amount to me. But I normally don’t think about it too much.
‘When I score a goal and the fans sing my name there’s maybe a realisation that, wow, it’s me they’re singing about!
‘It wasn’t too long ago I was in the stand singing about my heroes on the pitch.
‘There is still some disbelief, but it doesn’t faze me.
‘It excites me more than anything to give the fans a buzz to sing my name. There’s nothing like it.
‘That makes me strive to work harder and push on to do more.
‘Last season was my breakthrough season in terms of goals.
‘I’m striving to get better in terms of appearances, goals and assists. I’m looking to keep improving year on year.’
Chaplin faces competition from Michael Smith and Curtis Main for his place in the starting XI.
There is also Noel Hunt at the club, with Cook keen on adding the 33-year-old to his ranks.
So Chaplin’s leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to be in the best shape he can possibly be.
He said: ‘Pre-season is gearing towards being ready for Carlisle on August 6.
‘I’m a little lad so the repeated sprints are probably my thing – the explosive stuff.
‘So I make myself do a lot of long running over the summer otherwise I’d struggle for pre-season.
‘Maybe I have to work harder than some of the other lads who are naturally fitter. That doesn’t bother me, though, I more than happy to do that to get fit in pre-season.
‘I didn’t do any gym in the summer at all. None.
‘I’m focusing more on running because I want to be fitter than I was last year.
‘I know that I am and I’m happy about that.’