Kenny Jackett: Brett Pitman has upped his running in pursuit of regular Portsmouth spot
Kenny Jackett has revealed how Brett Pitman has embraced a higher running ethic – and Pompey are reaping the benefits.
The Blues are yet to lose since their skipper returned from cold storage to play a pivotal role during the remarkable surge towards automatic promotion.
After six goals in nine starts since mid-March, Pitman turned provider at the Stadium of Light to create Jamal Lowe’s first-half leveller.
The 31-year-old hooked Ronan Curtis’ left-wing cross from the byline, with Lee Brown heading the delivery against the bar before Lowe finished.
That 1-1 draw ensures Jackett’s men head into tonight’s visit of Peterborough (7,45pm) still firmly involved in the promotion race.
And Pompey’s boss has praised a resurgence constructed upon greater running statistics.
Jackett said: ‘People have asked “Why did you leave Brett out?” – and part of that was to do with work-rate.
‘In the 4-2-3-1, the high-speed running for your numbers seven, 10 and 11 has to be very, very high, as well as your full-backs. They are the key ones in the system.
‘The three behind the striker – Lowe, Curtis and Evans – have been high-speed runners during the course of the season, according to GPS.
‘For Brett, he is competing with that. If yours is less than the player you are competing against obviously you need to increase that.
‘These are explosive positions and those explosive players need the big moments.
‘However, Brett’s running has been good in this period, his stats are definitely higher. Not as high as Lowe, Curtis or Evans, but getting towards it.
‘Credit to Brett. In terms of when he was out of the side, I would always want to sit down with a player and tell him what he needs to do to get back into the team – and that was part of it.
‘Results have been good. His work-rate has to be high, his running has to stay high, he is competing with some fit players. Long may that continue.’
Pitman has scored 13 goals in 39 appearances this term, albeit with almost half his outings arriving from the bench.
Added to last season’s outstanding 25-goal haul, the former Bournemouth man retains a vital presence.
Jackett added: ‘Brett produces moments.
‘If you are looking at Saturday, the ability to pull that ball back from the byline was excellent technically.
‘It looked like perhaps the ball was going out, but he read it quickly, got there and still managed to bring it back for Lee Brown’s header.
‘He also pulled it back away from the goalkeeper, that was a crucial moment which got us back into the game.
‘Those moments have been a feature of Brett’s comeback.’