Pompey boss: squad’s new-found edge crucial

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler
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Kenny Jackett believes Pompey are starting to reap the benefits from a competitive playing squad.

The Blues registered a fifth win in six matches after inflicting a 2-0 defeat on Northampton in the Checkatrade Trophy at the weekend.

That is proper competition, that gives you the edge, that can be the five per cent swing between losing an drawing or drawing and winning

Kenny Jackett

His side’s latest success was achieved in the injury absence of five players – forcing him to name two academy youngsters on the bench.

The recalled Stuart O’Keefe was among Saturday’s scorers during a first start in six fixtures.

Meanwhile, Conor Chaplin, marking his second successive start, created Gareth Evans’ opening goal.

Now Jackett can identify a greater competitive advantage among his players.

He said: ‘Within the last few weeks we have produced what I feel to be an edge, some competition, and that’s a good thing.

‘Going into December, we are waiting for one or two people to come back. We want these players back, but players are fighting for their spots.

‘Nathan Thompson and O’Keefe came back from suspension and didn’t get their place back, they sat on the bench and have been pushing the players playing.

‘That is proper competition, that gives you the edge, that can be the five-per-cent swing between losing and drawing or drawing and winning.

‘I felt in certain positions we were very light and didn’t quite have that balance, but a few coming back have really helped us.

‘We now have competition in a few good areas, with some experienced players and young players pushing them. That is exactly what you want – and if you are going to be successful that’s what you need.

‘Portsmouth is a good club and a big club, standards are high, the bar is high, and we want to keep it there.’

The re-emergence of Danny Rose, Kal Naismith and Evans have certainly bolstered competition for places, while Brandon Haunstrup has started the past two games.

And, overall, Jacket can see improvement throughout his team.

He added: ‘I think we can see progress. Confidence is hard-earned and many of those games have been very tight, as was the run of losses we had before that.

‘If we are looking at our season so far, there have been 24 goals conceded in 20 games.

‘Okay it’s not bad, but we would like to get that down to in and around a goal a game.

‘If you can get under that then great. Wigan’s defensive tally of 12 goals against so far is excellent and rightly gives them a platform at the top of the league.

‘We feel slightly improved. We have been heavily reliant on Brett Pitman’s goals, which is good. He will be back for us and we will continue making him chances and putting him in positions where he can keep scoring.

‘We do feel we have targeted the right areas and made decent strides, but if we end up where we want to be then we’ll have to improve again.’