Swagger and style puts Leyton Orient target Louis Dennis ahead of number 10 Portsmouth pecking order – but Andy Cannon’s not far behind

Will Rooney looks at the talking points from last night's pre-season victory over UCD

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 4:44 am
UCD AFC vs Portsmouth Picture: Arnold Byrne

Swagger and style puts Dennis at top of pecking order

All the pre-match vibes pointed towards a recall for Louis Dennis.

Despite being left out in the cold last season, making just eight appearances in total, the forward’s returned to pre-season training in red-hot form.

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He caught the eye in both of Pompey’s Dublin sessions before their first friendly of the summer.

He was deservedly given a start in the number-10 position to face UCD and what a swashbuckling performance he delivered.

Swagger, intelligence, elegance – the list could go on and on.

Two composed finishes and a pair of assists was what Dennis conjured up so impressively.

In truth, he looked the attacking midfielder Pompey have never really had during Kenny Jackett’s reign.

The boss has revealed said he’s keen to freshen up the number-10 role this summer but firstly a player has to depart.

With Brett Pitman and Gareth Evans playing a far greater part in last term’s failed promotion bid, Dennis seemed the one who'd be offloaded.

With Leyton Orient interested, the former Bromley winger might be tempted to make the switch if he’s promised regular football.

But Dennis’ display against UCD has not only left a mark but he may even be top of the pecking order at Fratton Park.

Cannon a close second

While Louis Dennis certainly shone against the Students, Andy Cannon was determined to put in a similar impressive display when came on for the second-half in the same role.

Gareth Evans was put on the right flank, with Brett Pitman leading the line, allowing Cannon to operate in the hole.

Cannon’s another who’s been earning rave reviews from his team-mates since their return.

After making only two appearances following his arrival from Rochdale in January, he’s certainly still got plenty to do to win over the supporters.

However, the scores who did make the trip over to the Eire capital got a glimpse of Cannon’s prowess.

The 23-year-old doesn’t have the same silky stepovers and turns as Dennis but that's not saying he didn’t have a barnstorming impact.

A low centre of gravity, an ability to shift the ball and pick a pass and a tenacious attitude when out of possession, he'll give Jackett a different option in that position going forward whenever required.

Curtis’ energy returns

By his own admission, Ronan Curtis was mentally exhausted at the end of last season.

Having played what he reckons was more than 90 games with just a one-and-a-half week break, there's no wonder he was feeling that way.

Certainly his performance levels did take a dip towards the close of the campaign after starting in such powerful style.

The Fratton faithful hopes his extended leave this summer would revitalise Curtis. Two goals would have suggested that against UCD.

But it was the Republic of Ireland international's work-rate and tracking back which was more the impressive.

On one occasion a sprint back followed by a lunge to cut out pass on the edge of the box put paid to a rare attack from the hosts – and there was a constant presence from him to defend when required.

A three-week break seems to have got Curtis’ pep and verve back.

If it allows him to replicate what he did during the opening half of last term for the duration of next season then it will be significant plus.