Cook: Chaplin ‘unlucky’ not to get Daggers start

  • Chaplin has scored three goals in five pre-season friendlies
  • The 18-year-old last season made nine first-team appearances, scoring once

POMPEY boss Paul Cook has told Conor Chaplin he is ‘unlucky’ not to be lining up against Dagenham & Redbridge.

The Blues’ players were yesterday informed of the starting XI for tomorrow’s League Two opener.

Pompey youngster Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey youngster Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

Yet there was no room for Chaplin, who has shone in pre-season under Cook.

The Blues’ manager has been highly impressed with the 18-year-old, who netted three times during the summer friendlies.

And he admitted the youngster came close to breaking into his side.

Cook said: ‘If you look at Conor Chaplin at the minute, he is probably the unluckiest lad in the world to be out of our team tomorrow because of how bright he has been in our pre-season.

We have special players there, really good players, and we’ve got a few of them. What we have got to do is channel that correctly

Paul Cook

‘But we must still give Kyle Bennett and the other lads time to bed into the club.

‘Conor has been outstanding.

‘He will be on the bench against Dagenham and I imagine the lad will get onto the pitch.

‘We have special players there, really good players, and we’ve got a few of them. What we have got to do is channel that correctly.

‘I think the club is doing everything right now, it is in a fantastic place.

‘You speak about the 17,000 that will possibly be there tomorrow, our travelling support which will go to Plymouth, the standard of player – I think it is down to the manager and players now to step up to the plate.’

Kal Naismith is out of tomorrow’s clash with a thigh problem, while Jack Whatmough remains a long-term casualty.

Also missing is James Dunne, who yesterday returned to full training following an ankle knock.

Adam Barton is now over his groin injury, although the problem has kept him out of all seven of Pompey’s pre-season fixtures.

It is an absence which has left the midfielder short of match fitness, ensuring he is unlikely to make the bench against the Daggers.

However, Cook revealed Ben Tollitt is a consideration following an eye-catching outing at Burnham.

The winger, who played for non-league Skelmersdale United last season, continues to impress having last month signed on a one-year deal.

Cook added: ‘I would consider Tollitt getting on the pitch at the minute. A football pitch is a football pitch, it is not complicated.

‘He left Webbo (Adam Webster) for dead yesterday morning in training. He will leave most League Two players for dead and this is what we see on the training ground – there’s substance.

‘If our young lads can stop Gary Roberts out there, they can stop anyone.’

Pick your Pompey XI here.