Portsmouth talent told to keep options open

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Makeshift right-back Dan Smith has been urged to open his mind to a positional change.

The 19-year-old centre-forward was last night handed his Pompey debut in the Checkatrade Trophy trip to Southend.

Dan Smith has been told to be open to playing in different positions

Dan Smith has been told to be open to playing in different positions

Surprisingly the striker, who has netted 12 times during an eye-catching loan spell with the Rocks, marked the occasion by featuring in defence.

It’s a role Smith previously occupied during pre-season as a second-half substitute for Nathan Thompson against the Hawks and then Brighton.

Nonetheless, at Roots Hall yesterday evening his right-wing cross created the opener for Louis Dennis after just 93 seconds.

Gareth Evans’ 10th goal of the campaign on the stroke of half time completed the 2-0 scoreline.

Now Joe Gallen has advised Smith to focus on showing his adaptability.

Pompey’s assistant boss said: ‘With Dan, we are trying to get him to be open about his position.

‘We know he can play centre-forward, he’s been out on loan playing centre-forward and scored some goals.

‘But he’s got a really good attitude and should be open where he plays and not narrow himself down to one area.

‘In his time at the club he was in the youth team in midfield, maybe as a number eight running forward, maybe on the right of a three, then at centre-forward and now he’s playing right-back.

‘I am led to believe from his performances for the youth team that he has played pretty well in all positions. So I would say to Dan: “Keep your options open”.

‘He has such a good attitude that he can do a good job in a number of roles.

‘I think he has a lot of heart, looks after himself in the gym very, very well, has a very good attitude and is very focused – but sometimes you just need to be a little bit flexible.

‘Many a player has been in one position, somehow gone to another position and a career is born.

‘We are not saying you aren’t a centre-forward, just be flexible about it and be open about other positions too.’

In a back four also consisting of Christian Burgess, Matt Casey and Brandon Haunstrup, the Blues registered a second-successive clean sheet.

It provided the backbone for a fourth-straight victory, enabling them to progress into the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy.

Following last weekend’s FA Cup upset at Carrow Road, Kenny Jackett’s men remain involved in three competitions.

And Gallen was delighted with performance of a defence lacking regulars Matt Clarke and Jack Whatmough.

He added: ‘I thought Dan did great in that defence.

‘I know he put the ball in for the goal and right-back distribution is important, but ultimately it’s about defending and keeping a clean sheet.

‘He was part of a back four which kept a clean sheet, so he did well.’