Portsmouth midfielder has green light for tough tackling

Tom Naylor - Ruled the midfield - 8 Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com
Tom Naylor - Ruled the midfield - 8 Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com
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Tom Naylor has been instructed not to tone down his physical approach.

The combative midfielder has been booked six times in his opening 17 Blues matches following a summer arrival from Burton.

That yellow card haul saw him become the first Pompey player to be banned this season, missing the recent trip to Accrington.

Naylor returned to add his brand of battling qualities to Kenny Jackett’s midfield for last weekend’s 1-0 victory at Bradford to maintain top spot in League One.

The former Blue Square Premier performer is expected to once again be an automatic choice for Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Maidenhead.

And Naylor has revealed Pompey’s boss has told him not to change his footballing approach.

The 27-year-old said: ‘It was frustrating to be banned, but that is part and parcel of being a central midfielder, it’s the way I play.

‘The gaffer has told me not to take it out of my game. Reduce the bookings, yes, but not the physical side and putting your foot in.

‘I only ever had one suspension at Burton, which was an FA Cup match with Peterborough in November 2015, so I was gutted to get one so early with Portsmouth. It’s the first suspension for quite a while.

‘The message from the gaffer is don't keep getting booked because you’ll be suspended every week, just keep what you’re doing, showing physicality and putting your foot in.

‘Everyone is different, everyone has different aspects to their game.

‘Thommo (Ben Thompson) is good on the ball and can drive forward and get goals, whereas I’m the one who tries to pick everything up, put my foot in, win the headers and get the team going.’

Thompson started his career at Mansfield, then a non-league club, playing 23 matches, yet has never previously encountered Maidenhead.