Kenny Jackett has revealed the thinking behind Gareth Evans’ evolution into Pompey’s number 10.
The Blues boss has told why he’s chosen to utilise the popular winger in a central-attacking role this term.
Evans has been utilised in off a striker for much of the campaign in the 4-2-3-1 formation Jackett has largely operated with.
The 30-year-old has responded with four goals and a series of strong and reliable showings as his team set the pace in League One.
Jackett explained he shifted Evans from his preferred role on the right to get both the former Manchester United trainee and Jamal Lowe into the same starting XI.
And the Pompey manager has been delighted with how that move has worked out.
He said: ‘Gareth’s best position and what he’s been mainly is a wide-right player.
‘If you said what is Gareth Evans, you’d say a wide-right player.
‘Jamal Lowe has been number one there, though, so to get both of them on the pitch at the same time is something we’ve tried to do.
‘This year the (central) role has opened up a little bit more for him.
‘For the most part we’ve played one forward and he’s been able to play the role as an attacking-midfield player just behind them.
‘It’s helped to get both Jamal and Gareth into the team, because I don’t think either one of them really plays the wide-left area particularly well, or, from my point of view, it doesn’t get the best out of them.
‘I think centre or right is the right area for both of them, and that’s where it’s been.
‘If you were playing things exactly straight it would be pretty tough to get both of them into the team.
‘For Gareth, I didn’t want a situation where he wasn’t in the side and couldn’t contribute – because he has a lot to offer.’
Evans’ latest position continues a Blues career which has seen him moved into a number of different roles.
Paul Cook most memorably decided to use the 2015 arrival as a right-back for the vast majority of the 2016-17 League Two title-winning campaign.
Jackett noted Evans’ low-maintenance approach to getting the job down wherever he’s used is typical of his attitude.
He added: ‘Gareth’s a fantastic professional.
‘He covers a high amount of distance and has done as an attacking-midfield player for us, because that’s what he’s been this season.
‘Gareth’s capable of playing a few different roles which has been prevalent in his Pompey career.
‘To do an entire season at right-back in a title-winning season shows his professionalism.’
Using Evans in an attacking position through the middle also gets another player with an appetite to defend into Pompey’s team.
Jackett underlined how useful and significant that has been in a strong start to the season.
‘Gareth’s work ethic is very, very good,’ said the manager.
‘While he isn’t a number 10 like many in the league, he has a lot of strengths and brings a lot to the team.
‘So far he’s had a very good season.
‘I’m working on ways to get both Evans and Lowe in the team without either of them being wide left.
‘The way we’ve done it has gone quite well for us this season.’