RECHARGED Gary Roberts is ready to take centre stage in Pompey’s promotion bid.
The attacking midfielder is primed to step up and deliver for Paul Cook’s side as they go to league leaders Doncaster tomorrow.
The Blues’ key figure made his return off the bench against Luton in Monday’s 1-0 win at Fratton Park.
That followed the 32-year-old being handed a Christmas break after starting every league game this season for Pompey.
Roberts’ form dipped after a powerful opening to the campaign, leading to the decision to give him a rest.
Now the former Ipswich man is set to make an impact for his side over the second half of the campaign.
Blues assistant manager Leam Richardson told of the thinking behind the decision to take Roberts out of the firing line. He fully expects the Scouser’s return to boost the men around him as well as add quality to the side.
Richardson said: ‘The thought process was, from this time last year, Gary hasn’t missed a day.
‘Gary’s a fit lad. He’s hasn’t missed a game or day’s training all the way through the play-offs and pre-season.
‘We just felt he needed to recharge his batteries. He’s done that. You need to manage individuals as well as a collective group.
‘He’s come in the past couple of days and re-energised the group again.
‘Training has been fantastic. He’s been top class. He gives the lads a lift going on to the pitch.’
Roberts made a 22-minute cameo in the success over the Hatters, but blazed a penalty high over the bar in stoppage-time.
The attacking talent has since made light of that, and Richardson dismissed the notion the miss will impact his confidence.
Richardson feels it’s Roberts’ hunger to succeed at the Blues which shines through.
He added: ‘The miss won’t affect Gary’s confidence. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t want to take the next penalty. Absolutely shocked.
‘Although he’ll be disappointed with his touches and everything else, he gives the lads a lift and he takes control of the game.
‘He’ll get his touch and want to be more productive, too. He’s well thought of, Gary. He works hard and wants to do well.’
‘He wants to win He’s desperate to win, desperate to get this club promoted.
‘If people knew how desperate Gary is to get this club promoted they’d shake his hand.
‘It’s one of his passions. He talks about it every day.
‘He’s one of those you can’t get off the training pitch.
‘He talks about succeeding here all the time. He’s made up we won on Monday.
‘I’m not surprised he got a great reception. Gary’s played hundreds of games and got hundreds of goals.
‘It’s brilliant to have him. We’re lucky at this club to have him in this league.’