Tom Naylor: Forget Portsmouth's changing playing systems, footballers can cope

Skipper Tom Naylor believes Pompey's player should be able to adapt to formation switches. Picture: Joe Pepler
Skipper Tom Naylor believes Pompey's player should be able to adapt to formation switches. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Tom Naylor shrugged off the significance of Pompey’s flurry of system changes and insisted: Professional footballers can cope.

Kenny Jackett has altered his playing system in recent weeks as he seeks to reignite the Blues’ faltering promotion ambition.

Pompey’s boss has steadfastly stuck by the 4-2-3-1 set-up during more than two years at the Fratton Park helm.

It’s a model which can also take on a 4-3-3 form, dependant on whether it is point up or point down in relation to one of the central midfielders.

However, the arrival of Southampton in the Carabao Cup signalled the unveiling of a 4-4-2, with Brett Pitman pushed into attack along a second striker.

That subsequently yielded victories over Bolton and Doncaster to initiate a rise in the League One table.

However, according to Naylor, for last weekend’s visit of Gillingham, which produced a goalless draw, Jackett reverted to his trusted 4-2-3-1.

And Pompey’s skipper is convinced his team-mates can adapt to whatever formation is employed by their manager.

He said: ‘I like the 4-4-2, I enjoy it. I don’t think there’s much change to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.

‘We’ve got someone in that hole, Pits is not really a striker, he does drop in, so it’s not really a 4-4-2.

‘On Saturday, we went back to our usual formation of 4-2-3-1 and I thought battled well. In the middle we were holding a lot more than at Doncaster and Pits dropped deep.

‘It’s football, we are professionals, and if the gaffer wants to change the formation that’s fine. If he wants to change it on a Monday, we will then work on it for a week, it’s what players do.

‘Formations change, I’ve had it left, right and centre throughout my career at all my clubs, it’s not always 4-2-3-1, you have to adapt to it.

‘You can definitely cope with different systems, we are professional footballers, it’s not a problem. Whatever the gaffer wants, we will do.’

Pompey travel to struggling AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, knowing victory is a must.

The Dons are third from bottom in League One – and the Blues’ system remains to be seen.

Naylor added: ‘It was hard at Doncaster in a 4-4-2, they had wingers coming in and me and Closey had a man in midfield and it felt like we had to press the holding midfielder when we shouldn’t have done.

‘One should have gone and the other sat behind, we both tried to go for them and sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does.

‘On Saturday we had a 4-2-3-1 and felt I played well, but it is more about three points.’