Striker can be Pompey play-off star
CONOR WILKINSON has been backed to be a key man for Pompey in the play-offs.
The Bolton loanee has been tipped to emerge as a hero in the Blues’ charge to make it to League One.
Wilkinson made his debut for Paul Cook’s side with a 21-minute outing against Northampton on Saturday.
The striker was recruited on loan from Bolton to bolster Pompey’s attacking options.
That was particularly with the play-offs in mind, with Michael Smith returning to Swindon after his 93-day loan came to an end.
A groin injury picked up on international duty for Republic of Ireland under-21s stalled Wilkinson’s progress before he kicked a ball for his new club.
But Wilkinson is now fit and raring to go going into Thursday’s first play-off clash with Plymouth at Fratton Park.
Pompey have a host of injuries to contend with ahead of the Pilgrims meeting.
And that could lead to Wilkinson coming to the fore in the coming days.
Assistant manager, Leam Richardson, believes the front man has the attributes to do that. But, after a string of loan moves, he needs to bed in at a club.
Richardson said: ‘Going into the play-offs, Conor’s going to be a big, big player for us.
‘I’ve seen him a few times now over the last year.
‘I saw him when he first went to Oldham.
‘Technically, he’s a very strong player.
‘He’s got all the tools to be a top player. Whether he can apply it or not we will wait and see.
‘Football is a small world and people have opinions on different attributes of people.
‘They have opinions of what people can and can’t do.
‘I’ll make my own opinion of him when I’ve worked with him for a period.
‘They liked him at Newport and he scored some good goals there.
‘But it’s important for Conor he plays. He needs to make somewhere his home and give it a right good go.
‘He’s got the tools to be a good player.
‘We’ll soon see, but he could be important in the play-offs. Let’s hope so.’
It’s been a frustrating period for Wilkinson after spending six weeks out with the injury picked up in March.
But he’s now back to bolster Cook’s options at a time when he has a number of injury concerns.
Both Marc McNulty and Conor Chaplin missed Saturday’s loss with Northampton.
So Wilkinson’s reappearance has proved timely.
Richardson added: ‘He’s back in business and has picked up some minutes.
‘He’s back fit and up and running.
‘Conor would have worked out the dimensions of the pitch on Saturday and got a few relationships going.
‘It may only have been 20 minutes but he’s got on the pitch and got involved. It’s another ticked box for us.’