Arrival of former Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven will be the attacking option Portsmouth have lacked under Kenny Jackett

Gary Mackay-Steven. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Gary Mackay-Steven. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
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It’s the type of player Kenny Jackett has lacked during his two years in charge of Pompey.

Despite making 29 signings in total – permanents and loans – a natural left-footed winger still doesn’t feature on that list. 

Not that the Blues haven’t wanted one, of course, with assistant boss Joe Gallen previously explaining those players come at a premium.

But with Gary Mackay-Steven closing in on a free transfer to Fratton Park after leaving Aberdeen, that’s set to change. 

READ MORE: Gary Mackay-Steven will excite with his tricky talents

And a player of that ilk will give Pompey a fresh option they haven’t seriously had ahead of next term’s renewed League One promotion push.

Kal Naismith was the only left-footer who could play down that flank during Kenny Jackett's time as Pompey boss. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kal Naismith was the only left-footer who could play down that flank during Kenny Jackett's time as Pompey boss. Picture: Joe Pepler

When Jackett succeeded Paul Cook in the Fratton Park hot seat in June 2017, he inherited three players who could operate down the left flank.

Kyle Bennett had been key in that role as the Blues captured the League Two title just a month earlier, netting six times in 44 appearances.

Kal Naismith propelled himself into Pompey talisman territory during the final stages of the season, scoring seven goals in the final nine matches.

Those exploits came from the No10 position, but he was deployed on the left during times.

Meanwhile, Milan Lalkovic had also returned from his loan spell at Ross County after a slightly underwhelming impact following his arrival from Walsall the previous summer.

Jackett still strengthened his options, though, by recruiting Matty Kennedy on a season-long loan from Cardiff on transfer deadline day.

But, in truth, all four didn’t make a sufficient enough impact. In fact, the left wing proved a problem position. 

Naismith was the only natural left-footer of the quartet, but he couldn’t replicate his form during the previous term, finishing with just three goals in 31 matches.

Knowing he was heading for pastures new, subsequently moving to Wigan on a free transfer – coupled with not operating in a more central role – the two main reasons. 

Bennett failed to register a single goal or assist before leaving for Bristol Rovers during the January transfer window, while Lalkovic was plagued with Achilles problems before he departed by mutual consent during the same month.

Kennedy impressed in the early stages of his loan spell but was a bit-part player by the end of the campaign.

The position proved far more productive in the final third last season.

SEE ALSO: Ronan Curtis reiterates stance that he sees himself at Portsmouth next season

Ronan Curtis’ arrival from Derry City was the fundamental factor in remedying the previous issue – especially before the turn of the year. 

He ended the campaign with 12 goals in 54 matches, although his form did take a dip during the second half of the campaign. 

However, one of the criticism of the right-footed Curtis from sections of supporters was he’d cut inside too often rather than sticking to the touchline. 

But it wasn’t just Curtis who had that problem, with all of Jackett’s wide-left options last term favouring their right boot.

Jamal Lowe has underlined he’s at his peak when playing down the right and hasn’t had the same influence when on the opposite side.

Gareth Evans had a match-winning affect when coming off the bench to help Pompey to Checkatrade Trophy glory at Wembley.

But the No10 was the position Jackett favoured the fans’ favourite in for the majority of the season.

Meanwhile, all four loanee wingers - Andre Green, David Wheeler, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Lloyd Isgrove -  were natural right-footers.

So what Mackay-Steven will give the Blues is an option Jackett essentially has been without while in charge at PO4. 

The Scotland international’s arrival will offer the boss the scope to play two left-footers down the flank, with Lee Brown favoured on that side of defence.

That should mean more width when those tactics are deployed, with the potential of early crosses and cutbacks from the byline.

The left-foot, right-foot combination will also remain prominent, though, given the rapport Curtis and Brown built up.

Therefore, it’ll give Jackett room to manoeuvre down the left, being able to switch tactics when he feels is necessary.