Will Rooney looks back on three things we learnt from Pompey’s 3-0 win at Salisbury on Saturday.
ARMBAND UP FOR GRABS
With Michael Doyle departing Pompey earlier this summer, a new leader is required to take on the captain’s duties.
Gareth Evans surprisingly donned the armband in the first period at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium, ahead of Christian Burgess and Danny Rose, who’ve both been tipped for the role.
The 29-year-old was his usual, attacking self on the right who charged forward given every opportunity.
He committed his future to the Blues earlier this summer and making Evans captain would inject stability as Kenny Jackett prepares for life in League One.
After the break, Carl Baker emerged from the dugout with the skipper’s band strapped around his sleeve.
Baker appeared to relish the responsibility Jackett assigned him.
The 34-year-old would have been frustrated to have been left out of the Pompey’s boss’ first-half team that was mainly made up of the core group who helped lift the League Two title last season.
Baker charged around the pitch and ensured he was the involved in every Blue attack and took the majority of set pieces.
Chasing back was not too much of a problem for the former MK Dons man, either, as he put in a number of strong challenges to win the ball back for the visitors.
There likely are plenty more pilot episodes of players wearing the armband during pre-season to come.
Burgess and Rose especially will want to prove to Jackett they’re qualified to take on the role.
LALKOVIC KEEN TO IMPRESS
If Milan Lalkovic was to find himself another club this summer, there wouldn’t be many who would disapprove.
Pompey are blessed with two top-class attacking talents on the left-hand side going forward in Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith.
After an underwhelming first season at Fratton Park, which resulted in a loan spell at Ross County, Lalkovic has evidently returned with a raging fire in his belly ready to impress.
Bennett, in particular, is the Slovakian’s competition and registered a buoyant first-half display that carried on from where he left off last season.
That would have added further fuel to Lalkovic’s inferno – after all, first impressions count.
After replacing Bennett, the former Chelsea man hugged the left touchline and ensured Pompey had width to spread Salisbury’s rearguard.
On 53 minutes, he timed his run superbly to beat the offside trap and latched on to Curtis Main’s through ball before holding his composure in a tricky situation to break the deadlock.
Lalkovic didn’t rest on his laurels and continued to find ways to unlock the Whites’ defence.
He reaped the rewards from another surging run combined with pace and a series of sublime stepovers.
The 24-year-old’s cross was cleared off the line, but it only fell as far as Close who fired home.
It was a promising performance and Lalkovic be vowing to make improvements.
HAUNSTRUP IS HUNGRY
Whoever replaces Enda Stevens at left-back has big boots to fill.
Brandon Haunstrup is currently the only player in the position on Pompey’s books.
He is highly regarded at the club and has all of the attributes to become a regular in years to come.
There will no doubt be a new recruit who plays on the left-hand side of defence – but Haunstrup will be hoping the fresh arrival will be his deputy.
It was noticeably visible the Academy graduate gingerly studied Stevens’ game during the Irishman’s two years at Fratton Park.
Haunstrup played in the exact same manner as Stevens – bold, athletic and was always looking to get on the overlap.
He linked up with Bennett and didn’t forget to put his defensive duties first given he was hard in the tackle and brave going for headers.
Jackett has stated he’ll give young players the chance if they’re good enough and Haunstrup is taking his chance.