Why promotion-hunting Portsmouth must strengthen their number 10 options

The country seeks a new prime minister – and a number 10 vacancy also exists at Fratton Park.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 1st July 2019, 7:00 pm
Brett Pitman was a key figure in the number 10 role during Pompey's nine-game winning streak at the season's end. Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman was a key figure in the number 10 role during Pompey's nine-game winning streak at the season's end. Picture: Joe Pepler

It can be argued Boris Johnson parading a Pompey shirt may not be the answer to either scenario, regardless of pressing necessity for a solution.

Still, with five fresh candidates seeking Jackett’s first-team vote, there remains a key position yet to be filled.

The Blues are in the hunt to boost options for a number 10 role so pivotal to Kenny Jackett’s trusted 4-2-3-1 system.

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Of his summer recruits to date, Pompey’s boss has added three defenders, a versatile winger and a centre-forward, yet one glaring squad vacancy continues to elude.

Gareth Evans and latterly Brett Pitman were the preference for the vast majority of a campaign which amassed 88 points, 109 goals in all competitions and the Checkatrade Trophy.

In the case of the long-serving Evans, his 13-goal return represented a Pompey best, coinciding with a system switch for a performer proving increasingly versatile.

Converted into a number 10, the former Fleetwood man sparkled creatively for long periods, before fatigue over an exhausting 62-game campaign frustratingly slowed his progress.

It was Pitman, rejuvenated and back in favour, who seized the mantle during the final two months of the season, weighing in with six goals during a talismanic presence.

Upon his return to the side at Walsall, Jackett’s men embarked on a club record-equalling nine-straight victories as the skipper revelled in his favoured number 10 remit.

Both challengers remain in the thoughts of Pompey’s boss, yet the need to freshen up attacking positions for another promotion launch is crucial.

With another alternative, the ever-unfortunate Louis Dennis, destined to depart, and Andy Cannon perceived as a central midfielder, there is scope to strengthen.

Evans and Pitman both turn 32 in the forthcoming campaign and Jackett cannot afford unveiling his latest Championship blueprint without having added to their ranks.

In the interests of variation, the manager requires younger legs, pace, a creative instinct and, of which Evans and Pitman can certainly deliver, goals.

Pompey failed to win promotion last season – surely they cannot expect to achieve a more positive outcome this time around unless existing number 10 options are bolstered.