KAL NAISMITH has been challenged to take on the responsibility of being Pompey’s elder statesman.
The attacking talent is pushing for a start against Gillingham after going six weeks without a place in the Blues’ starting XI.
Naismith’s last appearance from the outset came in the 1-0 home defeat to Shrewsbury on January 27.
The former Rangers man has dealt with a groin problem in that time, but is now champing at the bit for minutes.
At 26, Naismith will be Pompey’s oldest player in contention, along with Christian Burgess, among a youthful side.
Jackett wants the Scot to react to that status if called upon.
He said: ‘For Kal, he’s pushing for a start.
‘He was a substitute last week, and he’ll be pushing for a place now definitely.
‘Suddenly he becomes one of the oldest if not the oldest.
‘Burgess, Naismith, Hawkins and Donohue are around that area now.
‘In terms of experience at the club, he’s now up there, too.
‘It’s a young group for this weekend, so Kal definitely comes into your thinking.’
With Naismith’s contract up in the summer, the onus is on him to produce a strong finish to the season.
Jackett noted that’s something he did in sensational style last term, with seven goals in nine games a key factor in Pompey’s title success.
The manager added: ‘For many reasons, and we’d want it as well, he’d want a big finish to the season.
‘He’s capable of producing that. He certainly did last year.
‘He wants to stay here and be here. We’re looking for good performances out of him. He’s capable of it, too, definitely. He’s a good enough player.’
– JORDAN CROSS