Evans earns high praise from Portsmouth boss Jackett

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Gareth Evans's professionalism has been hailed by Kenny Jackett.

The boss believes the endeavour displayed by the current Pompey captain makes him stand out among the crowd and a manager's dream to work with.

Gareth Evans celebrates scoring the winner against Bradford Picture: Daniel Chesterton

Gareth Evans celebrates scoring the winner against Bradford Picture: Daniel Chesterton

Evans has been a reliable presence in the Blues' early push towards promotion from League One.

Operating as a central-attacking midfielder against former club Bradford last week, he scored the only goal of the game to hand his side a three-point lead at the top of the table.

That role behind the centre-forward is a position Evans has made his own this term, with the likes of Brett Pitman and Joe Mason - two players many deemed ahead of him in the pecking order at the start of the season - forced to watch on from the sidelines.

The position is not one the former Manchester United trainee is used to during his spell at Fratton Park.

Since arriving on trial in the summer of 2015 under Paul Cook, the 30-year-old has operated in a variety of positions.

Signing as a right-winger, he was utilised mostly at right-back in Pompey's 2016-17 League Two title-winning season.

He was also forced to observe from the stands at the start of last season as Kenny Jackett put his stamp on the Blues.

Evans, though, had the patience and drive to force his way back into the manager's plans.

And as he gears up to celebrate 150 appearances for Pompey in the FA Cup first-round tie against Maidenhead United, Jackett hailed his versatility and determination to succeed at PO4.

The manager said: ‘Gareth's been captain of the side several times this season and deservedly so for what he has done since I've been here and before.

'Gareth’s played many roles on the pitch.

'Whichever role you ask Gareth to play, he will give 100 per cent and that has been a real feature for him and several managers as well.

'He was a big part of the promotion-winning side that came up from League Two and played right-back.

‘Last year I felt it was quite difficult to get him and Jamal Lowe in, so perhaps he suffered from that.

'He's come a little bit deeper, maybe in to a midfield role but his work-rate and his delivery at set-pieces – his overall play and so far his eye for goal is a good thing from midfield.

'Gareth's an experienced player and he does know if things aren't going for him to keep his head down and keep going, which is handling the disappointment.

'He's experienced that way.

'But, also, he can play a number of roles. Generally for someone like Gareth, he can fight his way back in because he has more than one string to his bow.

'He's settled in to a midfield position so far this season and, personally, I do think it suits him.’

Despite never operating as the central figure behind a loan striker, Jackett admitted Evans is a natural fit for the position.

The manager's decision to move the player has been backed up by his five goals and three assists so far this term.

Jackett said the former Fleetwood man had all the qualities to succeed in the role.

‘As an attacking midfield player that can get a goal, you have confidence in Gareth that by the end of the season he can get a good total,’ added the manager.

'He comes late behind the front three in to pockets of space, it does look like his anticipation and ultimately I suppose his execution – whether it's right or left-foot – is very good and you fancy him to keep it low and score.

I've hit points in my time here where it's been him or Jamal Lowe.

'I've picked Jamal, then Gareth has been backing that up, which for a manager is pretty good.

'It's quite a strong position then, it's where you want to be.

'For Gareth anyway, just trying to work a way of getting him in to the team.

'Also, I do see him as someone to get you a goal, that's not to be underestimated, you want as many of those people in your squad and to be on the pitch as possible.

'As an attacking midfield player I do think, at the moment, it's something that suits his qualities.’