Smith has key role to play for Pompey

Gaffer for a day Steve Ayling, 54, gives his thoughts ahead of Pompey's trip to Crawley...

Saturday, 21st January 2017, 8:00 am
Michael Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler

This will be controversial to most Pompey fans – but I’m a big fan of Michael Smith.

Okay, he isn’t setting the world alight in terms of goals, but I feel he gets a bad press.

I watched him closely last weekend against Leyton Orient, and he worked his socks off.

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That’s what someone like Conor Chaplin needs when you play a 4-4-2 formation.

Some people want to make a statement and say he’s the worst number nine we’ve had.

Well, the people saying that couldn’t have been going to Fratton Park for very long.

I’ve seen a lot, lot worse than Smith.

Against Orient he worked non-stop for 90 minutes, won headers and chased back throughout the game.

The one element he’s missing at the moment is confidence.

There was one moment attacking the Milton End last weekend when he didn’t pull the trigger and the reaction was awful.

I used to play as a striker at county level, and I know when you play up front there’s nothing worse than having your confidence knocked.

One thing which is overlooked about Smith is how important he is defensively.

We’re not the biggest side and he’s is constantly winning headers in our box.

So, for me, Smith stays in the team and starts at Crawley.

You can’t take Conor Chaplin out after last weekend, either.

He’s a predator, so we have to play a 4-4-2.

I don’t think we’re in for an easy game the way they’re playing at home.

I’m hoping for a quick start instead of giving the opponents the upper hand all the time.

We’re going to have half the crowd there, so I hope everyone behaves and we pick up the 2-1 win I’m predicting.