Pompey boss mulling over Rodgers recall on County reunion

Luke Rodgers during his playing days with Notts County
Luke Rodgers during his playing days with Notts County
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Blues boss Michael Appleton is weighing up granting Luke Rodgers a first-team recall on his Meadow Lane return.

The striker remains a firm favourite with Notts County fans after grabbing 13 goals in their League Two promotion-winning campaign in 2009-10.

Tomorrow sees the 30-year-old head back to the Magpies for the first time since leaving for the New York Red Bulls the following season.

Having joined Pompey this summer, Rodgers was relegated to the bench for the midweek defeat to Swindon in favour of a new system consisting of one central striker in Izale McLeod.

However, Rodgers’ eye-catching impact off the bench helped reinvigorate the Blues during the 2-1 loss.

Now Pompey face third-place County tomorrow – and Appleton admitted Rodgers could force his way into his side.

He said: ‘Luke can play that system because in it you don’t need your striker to come and play with his back to goal.

‘You are wanting them to stretch the opposition’s back four as much as you possibly can to free up a little bit of space for Brian Howard.

‘I could play in that role. Even now!

‘It’s about whether you start Luke or whether you use him for 25-30 minutes towards the end when the game is stretched a little bit and people are tired and he comes on fresh-legged.

‘I am sure Luke will be desperate – even if he doesn’t start – to score a goal against his former club.

‘He has been okay for us. He has got his three goals. He and Izale have had a reasonable start to the season in terms of their goals ratio.

‘I would like to know what the stats were in terms of actual chances created for both and the ratio of scoring. Someone tells me it is very, very high.

‘I am sure they will want to improve on that – and I’m sure they will improve on that.

‘But Luke works very hard and makes life difficult for defenders and that is important because you need to defend from the front.’

Rodgers, who initially arrived on trial this summer, has scored three goals in eight games since arriving at Fratton Park.

His most recent was a superb free-kick in the 3-0 victory at Crawley – the last time Pompey played away from Fratton Park.