Kenny Jackett challenges Portsmouth striker Harrison to continue making Ell of an impact
Kenny Jackett has challenged Ellis Harrison to build on his encouraging start as Pompey’s lone striker.
Harrison has adapted superbly to the rigours of the number nine role in the 4-2-3-1 system – a position whose demands have hampered many Fratton Park careers in recent years.
Nonetheless, the hard-working recruit from Ipswich has netted eight times in his opening 20 matches, with almost half of those outings coming off the bench.
Striking rival John Marquis has now dropped behind the main forward, with Jackett preferring Harrison in the advanced position.
Subsequently, the 25-year-old registered in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Peterborough, the opportunity created by a Marquis pass.
And Pompey’s boss is delighted with the early impact of a player he finally signed after three windows of trying.
Jackett said: ‘Ellis is continuing to do well for us and if you can get the right amount of crosses in he is very, very strong.
‘He has a little bit of everything in terms of our number nine. He has a strength and physicality, and on Saturday produced a good turn and goal by shooting low across the keeper.
‘I do think his strength is if you get crosses in. He is strong in terms of attacking balls in the other team’s box, but you must work well enough to get the crosses in.
‘Like a number of players, Ellis came in during the summer and we are pleased with his addition.
‘During the first six months of his stay, I have so far been pleased with what he has done, he has a bit to build on now, which is good.
‘There is no reason why he can’t go on and be a good centre-forward for Pompey, he is growing into it well.’
It’s now the fifth-successive season that the Blues have operated with a 4-2-3-1 system, firstly under Paul Cook and then Jackett.
While Marc McNulty was a success for Cook, the likes of Michael Smith, Eoin Doyle and Curtis Main suffered.
Under Jackett, both Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins have registered goals in the lone striker role – but now Pitman operates largely as a substitute, while Hawkins is serving at centre-half.
Summer signing Marquis was first choice until the start of November, with Harrison behind in the pecking order.
Now the latter is perceived as Jackett’s main striker, with Marquis learning how to be effective in a deeper role.
Jackett added: ‘It’s always about finding the right striker in any system.
‘You need to play them and give them the best service you can, you have to play to a player’s strengths as well – and Ellis has good strengths’