Kal Naismith’s receptiveness to working on his game has catapulted him onto another level.
That is the verdict of Leam Richardson, who has applauded the transformation of the winger’s Pompey career.
The in-form Scot has bounced back from being transfer listed in the summer and not featuring in pre-season.
Naismith is currently the Blues’ top scorer with 11 goals, 10 of which have arrived in his last 23 appearances.
He netted in Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Hartlepool, while laid on the second for substitute Gary Roberts.
And Pompey’s assistant manager is convinced the winger is reaping the rewards from learning on the training ground.
Kal has learnt about football, how important the game is, how important the structure of the team is, the work ethic requiredLeam Richardson
Richardson said: ‘People forget Kal is still a young player in terms of games played – he is still learning.
‘He and the manager have a good working relationship at the minute, he’s getting well educated.
‘He will be the first to admit he has come on as a person and a player, and is getting his rewards.
‘Kal has learnt about football, how important the game is, how important the structure of the team is, the work ethic required.
‘Nobody is ever going to question Kal’s ability. He is 6ft 2in, athletic, quick, has a technique to die for, is left-footed and has a goal in him.
‘But what he needs to do, and what he is doing, is learn the other side of the game – the ugly side.
‘That involves working in a team structure and, in my opinion, he has come on in leaps and bounds as a person and a player. He is a pleasure to watch at the minute.
‘Certain players come to the club and are quite receptive to information – Kal is like that.
‘He can play a few positions.
‘You’ve seen him play left-back, left side, up front and that is because he is receptive to information.
‘His goalscoring record doesn’t surprise me, he’ll be disappointed he hasn’t had more, knowing Kal.
‘As long as he keeps applying himself, he will finish the season strong.’
Naismith has now scored in each of his last three appearances as he enjoys a strong second half to the campaign.
Such has been his scintillating form, he has emerged as a late contender to be crowned player of the season.
The 25-year-old was even switched up front when Noel Hunt was forced off with a dislocated shoulder on the stroke of half-time.
And Richardson was also impressed by the Victoria Park contribution of Hunt’s replacement, Roberts.
He added: ‘Gary’s a confident player, has played hundreds of games, scored more than a hundred goals and been a quality performer for years.
‘He’s had a couple of niggles of late so it’s important Gary gets up and running and gets match-fit quick to finish the season strong. I am sure he will, he’s a senior player.’