Pompey boss: Opportunity for Kal Naismith to shine

Kal Naismith has been challenged to shine on his Pompey return.

Thursday, 21st January 2016, 6:00 am
Kal Naismith. Picture: Joe Pepler

But Paul Cook has revealed there remains the option to send the midfielder back out on loan if required.

Naismith came back to Fratton Park earlier this month following a loan spell at Hartlepool.

Pools boss Ronnie Moore was keen to retain the 23-year-old after a four-game spell which created a favourable impression among supporters.

Yet his hopes were dashed when Pompey requested their player returned in order to be reassessed during the January transfer window.

Cook has been keen to take another look at Naismith, who is contracted to the Blues until 2018 following a summer arrival from Accrington.

The Scot was an unused substitute against Ipswich Town on Tuesday night, marking a first involvement in a Pompey squad since November 7.

And Cook is hoping Naismith can begin to demonstrate the ability he knows he is capable of.

He said: ‘Kal has come back for us to have a little look at him for a week or two, so let’s see where it goes.

‘The window is open and the options are still out there so he can go out if we can’t give him game time – but we need to have a look at him.

‘He has a lot of talent and ability, it’s just we haven’t seen the best of him. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it but there are reasons why we asked him to go out.

‘The idea was hopefully by the time he came back he would be a better player.

‘Kal’s a good player. He has a lot of talent and we are looking at it every day.

‘What we have got to be careful of is keeping all your players as happy as you can as you go along – then you make your decision either way.’

A thigh injury on the eve of the campaign was a cruel blow to Naismith, who had enjoyed some bright displays during pre-season.

As a result it delayed his arrival into the Pompey first-team, finally collecting his maiden start in the 16th match of the season at Newport County.

By the time he was loaned to Hartlepool, the former Rangers wideman had made six appearances, of which two were starts.

Already cup-tied, he was unable to be considered for Hartlepool’s subsequent three FA Cup matches and also couldn’t line up against parent club Pompey for a league match in December.

Despite those occasions denying him matches, he has still caught the eye during four appearances for Moore’s side.

Yet he returns to a Pompey squad which possesses plenty of competition among the attacking positions.

Ben Tollitt has emerged during Naismith’s absence, while Gary Roberts is fit again and Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans are enjoying their best spells.

Cook added: ‘We have plenty of options in those positions, that’s the good thing about us.

‘Players are playing well at the moment.

‘Anyone can see that, so we have decisions to make on those positions in every game.’