Curtis Main has been earmarked for a fresh role as Pompey seek to bring out his best.
The striker endured a wretched maiden season at Fratton Park, devastated by injury.
It’s something we have done at other clubs, we think it works and Curtis has done well with itJoe Gallen
Main featured just twice under Paul Cook after October, with both outings arriving for the reserves in their eye-catching Premier League Cup campaign.
Now the 25-year-old has been presented with a new start following the appointment of Kenny Jackett as Blues boss.
The former Middlesbrough man has responded by registering three goals and an assist in his three friendly appearances to date.
According to assistant boss Joe Gallen, the new management have been striving to mould Main into a number 10 role, operating behind the striker.
He will again be utilised in tomorrow’s trip to the Rocks (1.30pm), albeit most likely from the bench.
And Gallen has been encouraged by the forward’s early-season displays in his different position.
He said: ‘At Poole we went with a 4-4-1-1, with Curtis in that number 10 slot.
‘We want that number nine up front to play on the last man and be a goalscorer, as Conor Chaplin did so well against Havant, scoring three goals.
‘We are looking at Curtis as maybe a number 10 to operate behind and can link it in terms of the middle third, but also spin in behind at the right moments.
‘It’s something we have done at other clubs. We think it works and Curtis has done well with it.
‘There’s a lot of running because when you lose possession you have to get right back in and be among the midfield. In terms of fitness, it’s a tough role and usually you need a very good player to fulfil it.
‘I don’t know if it’s natural to him, he might be better as a number nine, but sometimes you need to work, sometimes you need to encourage, then assess as you go. He has the makings of something.
‘It’s a tough role, you want him up front scoring goals, but you want him back in midfield helping. It’s not easy, but he has done well with it so far.’
Main scored five goals in 14 matches last season, yet an injury, which for so long was difficult to pinpoint, left him frustratingly on the sidelines.
Now he’s back, scoring a left-footed penalty against the Hawks, and then a right-footed spot-kick among his two goals at Poole on Tuesday evening.
Gallen added: ‘Curtis is a player we have known about, we’ve played against him over the years at different clubs, when he was at Shrewsbury and Middlesbrough.
‘We do know who he is and it’s up to him.
‘It’s a cliche, but it’s a clean slate in terms of a new management and up to Curtis to prove he can play for Pompey. The opportunity is there and he has done well so far.
‘I don’t think there is an issue with fitness at all, while the goals will give him confidence, it doesn’t matter who you are playing against.
‘He is pretty bubbly around the place at the moment and it’s definitely up to Curtis – there are shirts there so go and take them.’