Verdict: Portsmouth Players’ Player of the Season Tom Naylor a pivotal presence
Tom Naylor has been pivotal in Pompey’s sustained push for League One automatic promotion.
That is the verdict of News sports writer Will Rooney in the latest edition of Pompey Talk.
The midfielder has enjoyed a superb first season on the south coast and was named the Blues’ Players’ Player of the Season at the club’s end of season dinner on Wednesday.
Since arriving from Burton last summer, Naylor has racked up 47 appearances, scoring four times.
The 27-year-old has been Kenny Jackett’s preferred choice in a deep midfield role this season, starting all but three of Pompey’s League One fixtures.
And Rooney has been impressed by Naylor’s impact during his first campaign at Fratton Park.
He also pinpointed the midfielder’s leveller in the win over Coventry as another key moment from the former Brewers man in a stellar Blues season.
Speaking in the latest edition of Pompey Talk, Rooney said: ‘Tom Naylor makes others around him look good.
‘He has been pivotal all season.
‘The crowd like him, everyone appreciates what he does.
‘A lot of his stuff does go unnoticed.
‘Speaking to Craig MacGillivray at the training ground, he actually voted for him in the players’ player vote.
‘He’s one of those players where the defence appreciate him because he can break things up.
‘He can start a counter-attack by breaking the play up, so the forwards appreciate what he does in the hole as well.
‘When Ben Thompson was here, and Ben Close maybe, perhaps he gives them a little bit of a licence to do things.
‘His passing at times can be a little bit limited, he’ll know that himself.
‘But he’s not a passer. Kenny Jackett has said he likes playing him with a passer.
‘Naylor’s job is to break the play up and win the ball back.
‘That’s what he’s done all season and it’s something they lacked last season.
‘Naylor’s job is to just sit in front of the defence.
‘Even at times he gets to make it a back five to protect things when Pompey are under the cosh.
‘His header against Coventry was crucial, great header, bullet header.
‘That could be a pivotal moment.’