Cotts weighs up throwing in strike pair against Cardiff

Benjani is pushing for a start against Cardiff
Benjani is pushing for a start against Cardiff
Christian Burgess

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Steve Cotterill is weighing up whether to unleash his new strike stars on Cardiff.

The Blues boss is chewing over throwing in Erik Huseklepp and Benjani against the Bluebirds tomorrow.

Both men are pushing for starts after throwing down markers to their boss over the past week.

Huseklepp’s cameo against Bristol City has got Pompey fans buzzing, after he turned on the style on his debut.

And Benjani’s hat-trick in the 4-0 friendly win over Swindon in midweek fired a message to his manager.

Cotterill now has to decide whether to break up the Kanu and Dave Kitson pairing which he’s gone with for the past two games.

The Blues boss has been impressed with what he has seen of £1.5m arrival Huseklepp so far, but is also aware of placing too much pressure on the 26-year-old.

Cotterill said: ‘I think Erik needs a bit of time in this country.

‘It’s just wait and see. I think it would be unfair to put a timescale on him starting.

‘He played 60 minutes in the week. He did well. They all did.

‘He did what we hoped he would do at Bristol City.

‘What he can do is new to everybody but it’s not to me. That’s why we signed him.

‘Everyone was pleasantly surprised last weekend, but it will take him time.

‘It’s nice that the expectation is there but maybe I’m trying to lower it a bit.

‘That will allow him time to bed in and then flourish for us.

‘There are some things I’ve seen this week that I didn’t know about, and some I knew about.

‘He’s had a couple of kicks off the lads in training already, but he’s fitted in.

‘It’s about him adapting. He’s a gem of a lad and we’re hoping he will build on what he showed last week.

‘If he does that he’ll be a favourite, for sure.’

Benjani has been playing catch-up on his fitness after failing to get a full pre-season under his belt.

But Cotterill believes he is getting closer to the level he needs to be at to start.

Now he has to decide whether that will come tomorrow or after the international break.

Cotterill said: ‘I don’t know how ready Benji is.

‘I don’t know the answer to that until he ends up starting a game and we see how far he goes before he burns out.

‘The game the other day was a good gauge. He got 60 minutes and got some good finishes.

‘I’m happy with where Benji has got in the period of time he’s been here.

‘With Benji, you’ll get him there quicker than you would a lot of others.’