MICHAEL SMITH has shown his strength of character to hit the Pompey goal trail.
Smith’s will has been lauded along with his qualities to lead the line by Kyle Bennett.
And Bennett reminded Blues fans how it was Smith who was missed when his side came up short in the play-offs last season.
Smith finds himself back in form for Paul Cook’s men after a run of three goals in as many games.
That has proved a timely response from the 25-year-old to his critics after a tough opening to the campaign.
Bennett feels his team-mate has shown the attributes in his locker and how he gives his side something different to his fellow strikers.
He said: ‘Smithy’s a great player. You have patches as a player, good patches and bad patches.
‘It’s how you cope with those bad patches to get on the good.
‘He’s got his goals and hopefully that’ll be good for his confidence now.
‘He’s quite quick. He’s actually deceptively quick. He gives us a lot.
‘All of our strikers give us something different and that is good.
‘Conor (Chaplin) has had that run of games and Gary (Roberts) has been offering something behind him.
‘All of our strikers work hard.
‘I went to watch the under-23 game the other week and he was a handful against Wolves on that occasion, too.
‘They may not have been first-team players but they were up-and-coming Championship footballers and he gave them a bit of bother.’
Bennett has no doubt it was Smith’s lack of availability which hurt Pompey at the end of last season.
The terms of the Geordie hitman’s loan agreement meant the Blues could not call on him for the play-offs against Plymouth as his 93-day loan came to an end.
Smith ended the campaign with three goals in six games as he finished his stay in confident form.
Bennett has no doubt Smith was missed as Cook’s side came up short against Plymouth in the play-offs.
He said: ‘You saw it at the end of last season.
‘I think Michael was a big miss for us those play-off games.
‘He was picking up a bit of form, scoring a few goals and giving us a bit going forward.
‘We had great players last season and we’ve got them this season.
‘But Michael hit form at the end of the season.
‘You think of the AFC Wimbledon game. He was excellent.
‘It was just after then his loan finished and, in the form he was in, he was a big miss for us at that stage.’
- JORDAN CROSS