Lalkovic & Co backed to emerge from Pompey shadows

Milan Lalkovic celebrates scoring against Barnet. Picture: Joe Pepler
Milan Lalkovic celebrates scoring against Barnet. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Paul Cook has backed Milan Lalkovic for a first-team return.

And Pompey’s boss believes Michael Smith and Kal Naismith have demonstrated the door is always ajar.

There has got to be every chance for players to get back into the team, you will get an opportunity

Paul Cook

Summer arrival Lalkovic has not started a Blues league game since September’s 4-2 win over Wycombe.

In addition, he has been an unused substitute in the last five league fixtures.

Yet the Walsall recruit can be heartened over the re-emergence of Smith and Naismith in recent weeks.

Smith has now netted in three successive matches, while Naismith’s latest peak in a topsy-turvy season has been two goals in four games.

And Cook is adamant there continues to be a pathway for Lalkovic and others presently in the Fratton shadows.

He said: ‘Lalkovic will get back in. Milan will get back in, no bones about it.

‘Speaking generally, sometimes you have to come out of the team to go back in.

‘You build their confidence up again, then when they go back in they have another chance.

‘Believe it or not, you will only get so many chances at this club, that is the reality.

‘It is important once they come out, they are better when they go back in.

‘At Cheltenham, Kal had two or three opportunities looking to score but lacked aggression with his finishing.

‘He watched his clips on the Monday and we worked on the next time you get those opportunities you’ll be aggressive.

‘If he is not aggressive, he won’t go back in. I don’t care where his shot goes – although I think people believe I tell him not to shoot – but I actually want them to shoot aggressively and his finish at Luton was top-class.

‘We see it from Kal in training and when he comes on at Cheltenham around the box we need to see that left foot hitting missiles, not trying to do the things he does.

‘There has got to be every chance for players to get back into the team, you will get an opportunity.

‘The day when you are at a club like ours and I don’t look to pick you, the likelihood is you will leave soon.

‘One day I’ll be the one who leaves, so I don’t have time to say: “Well, I can give him another chance”.’

Smith made one start in 14 league matches before his current resurgence.

While Naismith removed himself from the transfer list, only for a run of featuring twice in six games in October.

Now both are back in the frame.

Cook added: ‘The biggest thing you can have as a player is: “Please get me on the pitch”.

‘The only time you can show everyone what you are about is on the pitch and I think Michael Smith won a lot of people over at Luton.

‘Let’s not forget he also played in the Accrington away defeat.

‘This year he was very, very much chastised very, very quickly and that wasn’t right, to be fair.’