NEIL ALLEN assesses the early-season injury absence of Jamal Lowe.
For all chat of not pre-judging a season based on the outcome of summer friendlies, one appraisal is irrefutable.
That Jamal Lowe continues to flourish with every Pompey outing.
Granted, new-boys Tom Naylor, Lee Brown and Ronan Curtis have mightily impressed during the inevitable scrutiny for an instant impact.
Yet it has been Lowe, the player now missing for up to three weeks, who has dominated the attention during the customary minutes in legs pre-season action.
And clearly he will be a massive miss in a potential four-game absence as he recovers from strained ankle ligaments.
The firm Fratton favourite was forced off against FC Utrecht on Saturday after 62 minutes, amid much concern from those present.
Kenny Jackett has attempted to lessen the blow. After all, there are selection alternatives and the injury could have been worse. Nothing wrong with lashings of positive thinking.
However, the absence of Pompey’s most influential attacking presence, irrespective of the time frame, represents a set-back which cannot be merely shrugged off.
Lowe netted against Cork and Swindon, while his displays in general have been excellent, maintaining the dangerous form demonstrated so effectively during last season.
His delivery for Oli Hawkins’ powerfully-headed goal against Swindon was, in particular, an encouraging sight amid a fixture schedule designed to ease players into match fitness and form.
Well, Lowe’s pre-season performances have been eye-catching from the very off, once again emphasising his importance to Pompey’s attacking promise.
With admirable ease, he stepped up from largely a substitute role in League Two to establishing himself in League One under a manager who never signed him.
The 24-year-old was rightly beaten by Matt Clarke to The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season yet, along with Brett Pitman, made the top three.
Last term, no Pompey player conjured up as many assists, while netting eight times in 50 appearances.
Gareth Evans is in the frame to replace him on the right flank during his ongoing absence, a reliable – and popular – deputy.
But Lowe remains the Blues’ one to watch this season.
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