Pompey boss: Pitman has his ideal role

Brett Pitman celebrates his goal at AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman celebrates his goal at AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Brett Pitman can continue to revel in his new striking role.

That is the verdict of Kenny Jackett, who is convinced operating behind a lone frontman brings the best out of Pompey’s skipper.

Brett prefers that role himself and I do think it is suitable for him

Kenny Jackett

Pitman has scored six goals in eight League One appearances since his summer arrival from Ipswich.

Jackett has opted to utilise the 29-year-old deeper than a conventional striker, effectively operating in the hole.

In terms of goals, the outcome has seen him top the divisional goal charts in a three-way tie.

But the Blues boss also believes the position suits Pitman’s all-round game.

He said: ‘Brett has set some good standards, we can see the quality he has.

‘Playing just off the second striker is his best position.

‘He can play up front on his own, but it’s not something I prefer to do.

‘I would rather try to be more offensive – and putting a midfielder just off a second striker can mean you lose out.

‘Brett has a little bit of everything.

‘He can link play at the right time, win the header, make the play, and it gives him the freedom to drop in when he needs to and get on the ball.

‘He’s a good footballer, capable of spraying the ball wide, and is also then not too far away from the goal-scoring area, so can pick up balls and score.

‘Brett prefers that role himself and I do think it is suitable for him.

‘I certainly hope he can get better. As we get better players around him and our team improves around him, we can create more chances.’

Conor Chaplin, Oliver Hawkins and Kal Naismith have all served as a lone striker this season.

That has allowed Pitman to operate in behind.

When Jackett introduced wing-backs against Rotherham earlier this month, the system was a 3-4-1-2.

That meant Hawkins and Chaplin were the strike force, with the skipper positioned in the hole.

Under Paul Cook, there was a preference for an attacking midfielder to occupy that role, with Gary Roberts and Naismith the usual choices.

In Naismith’s case, he has played the best football of his Pompey career while in the hole behind a lone forward.

Now the in-form Pitman has the responsibility.

And Jackett recognises the ex-Bournemouth man’s suitability.

He added: ‘Brett sometimes played that role at Ipswich, although there were different formations during that period.

‘Goals are a big part of it with your number nine and your number 10 and on Saturday he scored a brave header, which was key in the game, and a terrific second.

‘What is the requirement? Scoring, making them and working for the team, pressing from the front.

‘They are the three big things in that role.’