KAL NAISMITH has been backed to fulfil his Pompey potential.
Paul Cook believes the Pompey winger is now showing the work ethic which can see him make a big impact in the game.
Naismith impressed with a man-of-the-match performance in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Crawley.
The 25-year-old has returned to the starting XI for the past two games after missing out on the previous six games.
Naismith still remains Pompey’s joint top goalscorer with eight goals, often showcasing his eye for the spectacular with those finishes.
Cook believes the Scot’s talent has never been in doubt – but that is now married with work-rate.
He said: ‘These lads need time. Kal’s no different to most lads as a young player with talent.
‘I think Kal’s got the ability now, with all due respect to go on and be the player that’s in there.
‘Without doubt in the modern-day game the world’s Kal’s oyster.
‘He’s doing great and he can be whatever he wants to be.
‘He’s full of swagger. Full of it. You can’t take that from him, but he has to stay on the page. The minute he starts having too many touches on the pitch my head goes!
‘Now and again he will just revert to type, but he’s doing great. He deserves a pat on the back to go from where he was to where he is now.’
Naismith’s Pompey career has come full circle after being placed on the transfer list in the summer.
Cook used the example of needing to hand out a half-time rollicking to the former Rangers man against Northampton last season as evidence of how he’s improved.
He said: ‘No one has ever doubted Kal’s ability. You only have to look at a compilation of the goals he’s scored here.
‘I can only highlight that to the fans. Last season against Northampton I spent 15 minutes at half-time absolutely nailing him.
‘Two minutes later he scores one of the best goals you’ll ever see. I shouldn’t need to go through that pain to get him into that mode.
‘The improvement comes from watching clips and knowing what you must be when you get in those areas: Aggressive.
‘He’ll still make mistakes, but he’s listening and everything is more in tune with a lad developing.
‘His work ethic around the place is completely different to what it was. I do think he’s changed. His professionalism has improved a lot. I think he’s matured quickly and that’s down to him.
‘It’s not down to anything we’ve done. With the majority of these lads it’s down to themselves.
‘I think his level of professionalism, gym work and off-the-field habits are fantastic.
‘I only think we’re seeing the rewards of Kal being tuned in to being a footballer – and great credit to him.’