Pompey have been told to play to Michael Smith’s strengths after the under-fire striker netted twice in a substitute cameo.
The Blues’ reserves ran out 4-1 winners over Newport County in the Central League Cup yesterday afternoon.
Everyone wants to come after Michael but, with all due respect, you have to feed him as wellIan Foster
Conor Chaplin and Kal Naismith had put them on the road to victory with two goals in the opening eight minutes, before Rhys Healey pulled one back.
Yet, after replacing Chaplin on 61 minutes, Smith made it 3-1 with only his second touch.
He then added a fourth for the Blues on 79 minutes, finishing Naismith’s right-wing cross from close range.
The former Swindon striker endured an unsatisfactory return to the first-team in Saturday’s defeat at Accrington Stanley.
However, he last month netted a hat-trick at Yeovil in the Checkatrade Trophy.
And Ian Foster believes Pompey must learn how to get the best out of the 24-year-old.
The first-team coach said: ‘Michael did great yesterday.
‘He scored with his second touch and for his second got in front of his marker when Kal put in a wonderful delivery.
‘That is all you ask of your strikers – to go and give the manager problems for the weekend. I am sure he has not picked his team for Barnet.
‘I don’t think confidence is an issue with Michael.
‘You have to be fair and, when he played at Yeovil, you look at the type of goals he scored. How many of those deliveries went into the box at Accrington?
‘You have got to feed him. When you are playing Michael Smith you have got to put balls into the box and we were guilty of not doing that at the weekend.
‘Everyone wants to come after Michael but, with all due respect, you have to feed him as well.
‘The ball went into the box yesterday and he scored. The ball went into the box at Yeovil and he scored.
‘We have got to play to Michael’s strength.
‘Yes, Michael has got to do a little bit better at times, but we have got to do a little bit better for Michael.’
Pompey operated with a 3-5-2 system against Newport in the training ground clash, while Jack Whatmough, Brandon Haunstrup and Adam Buxton made their returns from injury.
The deadlock was broken on five minutes when Haunstrup’s left-wing cross was wonderfully headed home by Chaplin.
The goalscorer turned provider three minutes later, squaring for Naismith to curl home a delightful left-foot shot from the edge of the area.
Healey reduced the deficit on 38 minutes, latching onto Josh Sheehan’s through ball.
The Blues then wasted a glut of chances, with Naismith, Amine Linganzi and Milan Lalkovic the culprits.
Yet seconds after coming off the bench, Smith controlled with his chest before finishing with his left foot.
The striker completed the result by turning home Naismith’s cross.
Pompey: O’Brien, Clarke, Whatmough (Oxlade-Chamberlain 67), Hyam, Buxton, Haunstrup (May 61), Linganzi, Close, Naismith, Chaplin (Smith 61), Hunt (Lalkovic 24). Sub not used: Bass