New recruit pledges to load Pompey gun

Luke Varney.  Picture: Steve Reid (112472-309)
Luke Varney. Picture: Steve Reid (112472-309)
Pompey celebrate their second goal at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson

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Luke Varney has pledged to provide the ammunition for Pompey to start firing in the goals.

The summer recruit has been earmarked for a role wide on the left ahead of the season’s opener at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Naturally a centre-forward, it is a role he has grown into since breaking into league football with Crewe.

Last season at Blackpool he notched five times on the left of a three-pronged attack in a 4-3-3 system.

Just as crucially, he proved to be one of Ian Holloway’s chief creators.

Pompey scored just four goals in their final 10 matches last term as their play-off push fizzled out.

But Varney is confident he can make a difference following his Fratton Park arrival – especially if Steve Cotterill opts to retain the 4-3-3 system he often employed last term.

He said: ‘I was a bit worried about losing a bit of pace as I got older but have managed to keep most of it.

‘I enjoy a bit of space on the wing and putting in some crosses and setting up goals.

‘That’s what I am best at and that’s what I intend to do now I am at Portsmouth.

‘I am actually right footed, which is just a case of cutting inside.

‘But, also, I work quite hard on my left foot, so like to think I’ve got a decent left foot and can also make things happen with that.

‘I’m better in a 4-3-3, playing off the left.

‘At Blackpool it was basically a free role and, with great passers like Charlie Adam and David Vaughan, I got so much of the ball.

‘We had two units – an attacking base and a defensive base and nothing in between!

‘If you got caught standing still you would get a rollicking from Ian Holloway.

‘There were no set positions, he was quite happy for you to go wherever as long as someone covered for you and it worked well.

‘In a 4-4-2 I wouldn’t class myself as a left midfielder, more a left forward.

‘In a four you have to keep tight and lose a bit of width.

‘My strength is going wide and getting into channels so I work better in a 4-3-3.

‘Hopefully, I can get to do that here. I am sure I can do well if that’s the case.’

Varney’s versatility will be crucial in Cotterill’s small squad.

He has the ability to operate as a central striker as well as on the left or right flanks.

That flexibility saw him play as a central forward in the friendly against Charleston Battery, with Dave Kitson out injured. And he believes he can play in either role.

He added: ‘I started wide and then eventually have come inside but it has been good learning for me.

‘You learn positions and come into the box and come late.

‘At Crewe it was 4-3-3, with Dean Ashton through the middle and one either side.

‘That’s how I started on the wing.

‘At Sheffield Wednesday I was a centre-forward and scored nine goals in the first part of the season and went back to Derby.

‘When I came back, Alan Irvine asked me to go on the left because they were struggling for wide players.

‘I’ve definitely got that flexibility if required.’


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