Evans: Pompey squad stronger than last season

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Impressed Gareth Evans is convinced Pompey’s new-look squad is well equipped to surpass last season’s encouraging League One finish.

The Blues have kicked off the new campaign with successive victories, the most recent arriving in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph at Blackpool.

Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ronan Curtis registered his first goals for the club, with the recalled Oli Hawkins involved in both strikes.

Evans also warranted a first-team return, handed the captain’s armband in the process, while the bench contained the likes of Brett Pitman, Christian Burgess, Danny Rose and David Wheeler.

The midfielder is convinced such calibre of substitutes demonstrates the improved squad Kenny Jackett has assembled for the season.

And Evans believes the Blues have the potential to exceed last term’s eighth-placed finish.

He said: ‘This squad is strong.

‘I said in the dressing room afterwards, you look at the bench and we’ve have got Pitts, Burge and Rosie, that’s really good strength in depth now.

‘It’s credit to the gaffer for his recruitment and we feel we have a really good squad now.

‘We have a hell of a lot of talent and good players within the team and hopefully can do something special this year with the quality there.

‘I think it is stronger than last year’s squad. It’s hard to say after two games, but I feel in certain positions with the personnel we have brought in we have slightly improved.

‘With the run of games and the gelling of the team, that is only going to get better.

‘It has been a good start, but there are a lot of things to improve on.

‘It has not been two perfect performances, but it's a results business and we have two wins so are happy with that.

‘It’s just a case of slightly improving the performance, but I felt we were much improved on last week and hopefully we’ll improve again next week.

‘There are small things, like the defending for the Blackpool goal and then inviting the pressure from them onto us, little things like that we can improve on and eradicate. It’s something to work on.

‘We can definitely do better this season. Eighth was okay, consolidating in the league and just missing out on the play-offs, being five points short with 20 defeats.

‘If we make some of those defeats draws then we are there or thereabouts.’

New signing Wheeler was handed 12 minutes from the bench as a replacement for Jamal Lowe.

Meanwhile, Evans served in a midfield three, with Tom Naylor sitting and the skipper and Ben Close pushing on centrally.

The long-serving Pompey player was an unused substitute in last weekend’s opening victory over Luton.

And he admitted his Bloomfield Road return to the side was unexpected.

He added: ‘It was a bit of a surprise, yes.

‘A couple of the lads picked up injuries in the week, which probably forced the gaffer’s hand into putting me into the team.

‘But I felt I put in a decent performance and gave him something to think about for next week.

‘As a team, we were disappointed with the goal we conceded, it was shocking, no two ways about it’.