Newport County v Pompey: Kal Naismith presses starting claims

Kal Naismith. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Naismith has made three substitute appearances for Pompey so far
  • Winger represented Accrington 35 times in League One last season

Kal Naismith is pushing for a maiden start as Pompey seek Gareth Evans’ replacement.

And first-team coach Ian Foster believes the summer recruit is making a compelling claim.

As the first-team were doing exceptionally well it was a big month to miss, with Capital One Cup games as well. Kal was very unfortunate in that respect

Ian Foster

Naismith has made three substitute appearances since the Blues paid Accrington Stanley a fee for his services.

And injury on the eve of the campaign checked the 23-year-old’s progress, ensuring he has played catch-up ever since.

Now with Evans suspended following his Cambridge United red card, the Scot is competing for a full debut.

Paul Cook must weigh up whether Naismith or Chaplin will join Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett as part of the attacking midfield three.

Yet Naismith, who scored one and created the other for the reserves against Cardiff City in the week, is providing a persuasive argument.

Foster said: ‘Kal has been very unfortunate not to get too many match minutes.

‘He got injured before the Gillingham pre-season game and then spent a month out.

‘As the first-team were doing exceptionally well, it was a big month to miss – with Capital One Cup games as well. He was very unfortunate in that respect.

‘But he has worked hard to get himself back in contention and the reserve games are priceless for Kal.

‘He played 75 minutes last week and 90 minutes this week and I’m sure he will come right into the manager’s thinking with regards to this weekend. Kal’s got so much energy, positivity and ability, he is one I am sure will be pushing for selection.

‘He is improving all the time out of possession, which was his biggest problem coming to the football club.

‘In possession terrific, out of possession not so great.

‘But he is improving every day in training and getting better and better all the time.’

Naismith is the only one of Cook’s 14 summer recruits yet to start a match.

But with Adam McGurk still missing with an ankle injury and Evans suspended, the door has opened.

The former Rangers man provided a fortuitous assist for Matt Tubbs’ second goal after coming on as substitute last Saturday.

In Tuesday afternoon’s behind-closed-doors 2-1 victory over Cardiff City’s development squad, he set up Chaplin for a goal before adding a sweet left-foot half-volley himself.

Foster added: ‘For the last 15 minutes we played Kal at left-back because he has got that as well.

‘I just felt it was important for him to get 90 minutes under his belt.

‘And I don’t think we could have asked for any more from him.

‘I thought his decision making on when to go wide and when to come narrow and get it and turn and be positive was good.

‘His energy was fabulous in and out of possession and he looked a constant threat.’