Portsmouth's forgotten men offered rare first-team chance to impress Kenny Jackett

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Kenny Jackett has offered the stage for Pompey’s forgotten men to showcase their talents in pursuit of regular first-team football.

Andy Cannon and Paul Downing will both be handed starts in tonight’s Leasing.com Trophy clash with Northampton.

Neither have featured in a Blues line-up since the previous fixture in the competition at Oxford United – 11 matches ago.

Cannon has subsequently totalled just 22 minutes of first-team football, while Downing didn’t even make the bench in Saturday’s FA Cup victory over Altrincham.

However, the out-of-favour pair, who both arrived in 2019, will be offered an opportunity to impress in this evening’s second-round fixture with the Cobblers (7.45pm).

Jackett said: ‘I am sure they will get the opportunity to stake their case.

Andy Cannon will make a rare Pompey appearance in tonight's Leasing.com Trophy clash with Northampton. Picture: Graham Hunt

Andy Cannon will make a rare Pompey appearance in tonight's Leasing.com Trophy clash with Northampton. Picture: Graham Hunt

‘Andy needs a good all-round midfield display, which he is capable of in the position he has played.

‘Quite a lot of people ask me about him and, generally, I have gone with two attacking wingers of late, between Williams, Curtis and Harness, and then two out of three of our attackers in Harrison, Marquis and Pitman.

‘With the holding midfielders, Anton Walkes and Ben Close have been in there recently.

‘Andy is competing for that creative midfield position in that holding two, but, to be fair to Ben, he has come up with some good performances and, as ever, a couple of great goals lately.

Pompey defender Paul Downing

Pompey defender Paul Downing

‘Against Northampton, Andy will play in one of those positions, the creative position, and I look forward to seeing him play.

‘It has been a frustrating time for him, I understand that, but, similarly, it’s a good time to showcase.’

Downing has previously started one match in almost two-and-a-half months.

It’s in contrast to being an ever-present in the opening eight games of the campaign, following his summer arrival from Blackburn.

Since then, however, Sean Raggett, Tom Naylor and Oli Hawkins have been named ahead of him.

Jackett added: ‘Paul hasn’t necessarily done a lot wrong, but since the early days of the season he has been in and out of the team.

‘I have a lot of faith in him and that, when called upon, he’s going to be good enough to do the job, particularly at that right-sided centre-half position.

‘There is a future for him here, whether as a contender or a regular, football changes quickly. From the manager’s point of view, it is very difficult to it with 11 players, you need a squad of 20.

‘I have spoken to Paul quite a lot, he is very professional and trains hard. Obviously, he wants to be in the team, but so does everybody.’