No longer underappreciated, but Andy Cannon remains a Portsmouth enigma

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Andy Cannon has strengthened his standing among the Fratton faithful – only to fade from Kenny Jackett’s first-team plans.

It’s a curious fate to befall the softly-spoken midfielder, who nonetheless has initiated a remarkable turnaround.

Yet while queries over his ability have been emphatically answered, questions remain over where best to employ the industrious 23-year-old.

It was at the start of the year when Cannon was sidelined by long-term injury, consequently written off by those who had barely glimpsed him in action.

Coinciding with Pompey’s toppling as League One leaders, his talent was condemned in its on-pitch absence.

Yet the Rochdale recruit transformed supporter opinion, earning a Fratton end song and man-of-the-match accolade during August’s 2-0 victory over Tranmere.

Andy Cannon has surprisingly dropped out of the first-team reckoning since mid-September. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

Andy Cannon has surprisingly dropped out of the first-team reckoning since mid-September. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

Representing only his second league Fratton Park outing, that 68-minute cameo was lauded for its energy, drive and endeavour as finally Cannon was allowed to make his mark.

He was an unused substitute in the Coventry debacle, spared that wretched stigma, yet by mid-September had started four of the Blues’ seven league fixtures.

Wycombe, however, appears to be the source of his present first-team demise.

Despite losing to Adebayo Akinfenwa’s late penalty, many had Cannon as Pompey’s best performer, his tireless presence amplifying his regard among a support now turning on Kenny Jackett.

That appearance arrived on September 21 – he has totalled 22 minutes of league football since.

In the six subsequent League One matches, Cannon has been named on the bench five times, and omitted from the 18-man squad at Doncaster.

Save a 90-minute outing at Oxford United in the Leasing.com Trophy, he has tumbled out of the first-team reckoning.

Harsh, unquestionably, although Jackett is struggling to find an effective role to accommodate his January recruit.

Cannon seems to lack the creativity and goal-scoring presence that Gareth Evans and Brett Pitman offer as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1.

Similarly, he does not possess the defensive power and discipline to anchor the two holding-midfield roles, nor is he suited out wide.

There remains heart, dynamism and a spirit to be applauded, Cannon can defend from the front and drive on a team.

His talent is now recognised – where best to utilise it, is not.