Portsmouth assist king answer questions over defensive flaws as he prepares for extended run starting at Reading

Jack Sparkes believes he’s answering questions over his defensive resolve.
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The in-form left-sided talent has detailed the work he’s doing to make improvements on the back foot, as he outlined his delight at a happy start to life at Fratton Park.

And the Blues assist king has promised he won’t let a focus on improvements at keeping the opposition out blunt his outstanding supply going forward.

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Sparkes’ has produced an excellent six assists this term, through his threat from set-pieces and open play. Throw in ‘second assists’ and it’s double figures for the 23-year-old, as Pompey utilise his quality.

There’s been question marks about the summer arrival from Exeter’s defensive work, however, particularly after a difficult afternoon against Lincoln in September.

Sparkes acknowledged those doubts were justified, but feels he’s putting in the graft to improve in that department.

With Connor Ogilvie facing a stint on the sidelines, he is now due for an extended run in John Mousinho’s side where he wants to marry his defensive duties with the cultured talent’s natural attributes.

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Sparkes said: ‘I’ve been working hard with Zesh (Rehman), Jon (Harley) and Northy (Shaun North).

Pompey's Jack Sparkes is working on improving his defensive attributes as his form impresses. Picture: Jason Brown.Pompey's Jack Sparkes is working on improving his defensive attributes as his form impresses. Picture: Jason Brown.
Pompey's Jack Sparkes is working on improving his defensive attributes as his form impresses. Picture: Jason Brown.

‘I feel like it’s definitely improved since the Lincoln game, I think you can see that in my performances. There’s a few things I need to tighten up on, but overall it’s positive.

‘Connor’s a better defender than me, but there’s things like my crossing which is a natural attribute of mine which I take a lot of pride in.

‘So it’s important when I’m on the pitch I stick to what I can do and try to keep my place.

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‘It’s nice to be playing, but even when I wasn’t I was still loving life here. It’s good to be a part of what could be here come the end of the season, so I’m very happy.’

Pompey go to Reading this weekend looking to make it 26 league games unbeaten, after their seven-game winning sequence came to an end at Cambridge on Tuesday night.

Sparkes is looking for the blend of quality and determination shown this season to once again be on show against the Royals.

He added: ‘We won’t give in.

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‘There’s been a few late goals, too. If we can keep working hard and concentrating on the areas we want to improve we can hopefully achieve things.

‘We’ve got the fundamentals and you have to have a bit of quality as well, which we’ve got. We’ve clearly got the players which bring that.

‘We’re not always going to have the perfect game, we’re going to have games when we scrape results.

‘We’re going to have bad games, so we have to stay level. But this club shouldn’t be in this league, and I want to play a part in putting it back to where it should be.’