What Andy Cannon has to do to stay in Kenny Jackett's Portsmouth starting XI
Kenny Jackett has outlined what Andy Cannon needs to do to keep his Pompey starting shirt.
The Blues boss has lauded the midfielder’s input in his side moving to the cusp of the play-offs amid victories over the division’s top two sides.
Jackett admitted the 4-1 loss at Accrington and his side’s defensive vulnerability was a catalyst for parachuting Cannon into the starting XI, after not getting a full League One appearance for three months.
But it’s the 23-year-old’s ability to bring a balance to his side and add another dimension to their forward play which has been evident.
Jackett wants to see Cannon continue in the same vein as Pompey face a double header on the road at MK Dons and Gillingham.
He’s detailed the former Rochdale man with supplying the ammunition for in-form Ronan Curtis and his side’s full-backs moving forward.
And Jackett doesn’t want to see Cannon neglect his defensive duties if he’s to keep his stating berth.
He said: ‘He just needs to play like that. He’s playing very well.
‘We’ve talked about him quite a bit and him pushing Ben Close for that position.
‘But now it’s with Ben Close and Naylor as well.
‘So he needs to keep up his performance levels in training and in games.
‘With his low centre of gravity he gives a turning ability which can bring one or two of our forwards into play.
‘He can help a defender come and overlap, which is a big part of our play.
‘He’s a very good footballer and probably has a midfield player’s instincts over a forward player’s instincts.
‘So that’s second balls, tackling, tracking and getting goal side. That’s a part of it.
‘But on the ball he’s a complement to what we have and with our wingers going nicely at the moment, he can get the ball into good areas for our wide men who are dangerous.’
There’s little doubt that the 4-1 thumping at Accrington ranks right at the top of the low points this season for Pompey.
But it was the performance at the Crown Ground which may well prove to be a turning point in the season, with it now followed up with maximums against Ipswich and league leaders Wycombe.
But the Pompey boss admitted it was the manner in which Accy were able to drive through the heart of his side which was really concerning, prompting a change which he’s now hoping will be the catalyst for continued success.
Jackett added: ‘It was more going off what happened at Accrington, as well. In the 4-1 loss I felt we really open.
‘Really, we had no protection so we needed Tom into midfield and a third midfielder.
‘So playing three in midfield with one of them being Naylor along with Close and Cannon was what was needed after that.
‘I did feel that was needed against Ipswich as well and all three played well.
‘We’ve replaced Cannon with Evans when we’ve needed the fresh energy Gareth provides.
‘We’ve been pleased with Andy, very pleased with him. As a midfield unit I feel we’re playing well.’