How Pompey boss helped switch Smith’s role

Dan Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dan Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler
Niko Kranjcar. Picture: Joe Gidden/ PA Images

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Mark Kelly revealed how Kenny Jackett’s input helped convert Dan Smith from a winger into a striker.

And Pompey’s youth chief feels the new role suits the Warsash talent’s attributes.

Smith has been offered third-year scholar terms with the Blues after impressing for the academy.

The 18-year-old netted 17 goals for Kelly’s troops this season.

He was also named on Jackett’s first-team bench three times.

Despite previously being a wideman, the boss assessed Smith’s strengths.

His aerial threat and pace led to Jackett switching the youngster to a central role.

Kelly saluted Smith for seamlessly adapting through the middle.

The Blues’ academy boss insisted being versatile is something he advocates with his fledgling talents.

‘It was a bit of input from everyone, really,’ said Kelly.

‘Dan has played in numerous positions – like we’ve done with a lot of players.

‘Adam May was the same. You move people around and give them different opportunities.

‘When you watch Dan, he’s a great athlete. When you look at his leap, he can really get above people – he rarely loses headers, even when we’ve played under-23 games.

‘He’s that focal point down the middle. Ken looked at him and thought centrally he might do a little bit more.

‘That’s where the focus lay and, to be fair to him, he went out and scored a lot of goals in the youth team and has been effective at under-23 level doing it.

‘It’s been a good platform for him. That’s the thing about football, it evolves sometimes. The one good thing we’ve had is we always try be flexible in the way we get the lads to work.

‘It’s not rigid – football’s not like that. There will always be a day when the manager says “can you go and do that for me today?”

‘You’ve got to be able to adapt. Dan has and he’s enjoyed it.

‘It really has suited some of the attributes he brings to the party.’