Gareth Evans, writing for our new player column in the Sports Mail, discusses some of the key topics emanating from the Pompey dressing room.
This week the Blues midfielder talks about his new role at right-back, plus last week’s Checkatrade Trophy game at Fratton Park.
Next week’s column will be written by Carl Baker.
I’m on the right track – but it’s not a permanent fixture
Injuries are part and parcel of the game, as I know all too well.
It is for that very reason I have found myself plying my trade at right-back so far this season.
Injuries to both Drew Talbot and Adam Buxton meant we were drastically short in that department and the gaffer called upon me to do a job for him in the home game against Crawley.
So seven league games later and I still find myself in the defensive role.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed it and it’s something I have bought into.
Adam has been really unlucky since signing from Accrington Stanley in that his ankle doesn’t seem to fancy healing itself fully yet, something I can definitely relate to.
We can all see the quality he possesses and I’m sure he is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with his latest knock not as bad as first feared.
Drew had the difficult task of filling Ben Davies’ boots when signing from Chesterfield in the summer – a challenge he was certainly standing up to until an awkward overstretch in training caused a tear in his hamstring.
I have played against Drew a number of times over the years and found it really hard to get any change out of him, so I was aware of his capabilities when he signed.
The sooner these lads are back, the better.
So let’s hope they both return sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, I will continue to acclimatise to the position.
Before joining Pompey, I had never before played at right-back, instead operating in midfield.
Much of my time at Rotherham I was used as a left-sided midfielder but it is on the right I am used to.
Then when Ben Davies went off injured at Crawley last season, I dropped back to fill in.
Then, when Ben was rested, I started there against Reading in the Capital One Cup in what turned out to be a 2-1 defeat.
I didn’t anticipate returning to the position during the current campaign!
It is actually a far more attacking role than it sounds, particularly under this manager and that’s the main reason I have enjoyed it.
I find I can get to overlap into the final third and join in our attacks a lot more than a conventional full-back.
The defensive side of my game can improve – in terms of positioning and one-versus-one situations.
But, considering I have never had to do these before in my career, I like to think I have done sufficiently well and am improving in that department.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the situation I have found myself in, I feel my best attributes are making and scoring goals.
I don’t see myself as playing there all season for that reason.
But I suppose it has added a string to my bow in terms of adding a certain amount of versatility to my game.
And should there be another injury crisis at right-back at a later date, I think the manager could look at me again – as someone who could not only get forward and assist very well in attacks but also someone who could be average at defending as well.
Absurd shootout but ties will benefit young guns
A lot of disgruntled fans up and down the country have voiced their opinions this season on the latest format of what was the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – now named the Checkatrade Trophy.
Admittedly, to find ourselves in a penalty shootout on Tuesday night in what was only the group stage of the competition seemed absurd to say the least but we had to be as professional as possible.
I suppose it gave the fans a bit of excitement after watching, what I felt, was a good performance by a number of players needing game time.
It hardly created the intensity and pressure of a play-off final shootout given that it was a single point at stake but whoever took a penalty certainly wanted to put it away.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalise on the situation and Reading under-23s took the single point.
These games are excellent, I feel, for the young players getting a run out and there is definitely a value to the controversial cup.
However, it is a bit different walking out to 16,950 against Doncaster and then days later playing in front of 1,355 at the same ground.
To be present for the smallest post-war crowd at Fratton Park was extremely strange.
Having said that, those fans in attendance remained vocal and got behind the team – even if small crowds are not good for the competition.
No matter the match, you don’t tend to notice the size of the crowd too much – that is until you hear that Fratton roar emerge.