Striker challenged to show spite for Pompey
MICHAEL SMITH has been challenged: Show your devil.
Paul Cook has tasked the striker with bringing his steely side to the fore as he begins to find his feet at Fratton Park.
Smith is out to make his mark against play-off-chasing Carlisle tomorrow as the bid for League Two promotion continues apace.
The 24-year-old has started the past two games for Pompey and shown signs of momentum building in both outings.
Smith, who is on loan from Swindon, was involved in a physical battle with the Notts County defence last time out in the 4-0 Good Friday win.
That was a task he met head on, seeing him given a standing ovation when he was withdrawn with six minutes left.
Now Cook is out to see him produce more of the same against the Cumbrians.
And his manager wants to see the 6ft 4in hitman do that with some spite in his game.
Cook said: ‘Michael is well capable of looking after himself.
‘He can look after himself with the best of them. We need that more from him.
‘He’s a nice lad, but he takes that on to the pitch sometimes.
‘You’re looking for that little bit of devil in him.
‘That’s fully within him, though.
‘Michael will only grow with games because he’s a good player.
‘He just needs to come out of himself a little bit more.
‘But he can run, he’s got a great touch, he can score goals, he heads the ball well and he has physicality.
‘For any club to have a Michael Smith means it’s a proper club.’
Cook has been pleased to see the striker show signs he is feeling at home in his new surroundings at Pompey.
He remains on a 93-day loan, which makes him available for fixtures up to and including the penultimate clash of the campaign at Hartlepool.
Smith went through a difficult loan spell at Barnsley this season when he was allowed to leave Swindon.
After bagging 18 goals last term at the County Ground, he failed to score in 13 outings at Oakwell. Now Cook believes the signs are there he is at home in his confines.
And that’s good new for the Blues as the intensity is ramped up in the chase for success this season.
‘You have to remember he played in a successful Swindon team last season,’ added Cook.
‘He then had a poor loan at Barnsley for whatever reason. That happens. That’s life.
‘Maybe he’s had 12 months now of not having a happy home.
‘He’s just finding his feet here. It’s important we stay with these players while they find their feet.
‘We think he’s settling in now.
‘He knows all the lads well and he gets on well with the players in the club.
‘They get to know each other and start to find themselves within the club.’