Striker tipped to emerge through Pompey run-in

Pompey striker Eoin Doyle Picture: Joe PeplerPompey striker Eoin Doyle Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Eoin Doyle Picture: Joe Pepler
NOEL HUNT has been backed to emerge through Pompey's run-in.

And Paul Cook has indicated his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation will come to the fore over the final 19 games of the season.

The Blues boss has stated Hunt will have a significant role to play within his set-up as his side chase promotion.

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Cook admitted keeping faith with Michael Smith as his form foundered has impacted on Hunt’s playing time.

Pompey have been keen to herald the Irishman for his professionalism this season after his summer arrival from Southend.

The club’s coaching staff have held an open dialogue with the 34-year-old, after being restricted to just three starts and 15 sub outings so far.

Eoin Doyle was recruited on transfer deadline day to supplement Cook’s striking options.

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With Curtis Main still injured, Conor Chaplin and Nicke Kabamba are the other senior strikers at the club along with Hunt.

And Cook feels there will be playing time for those options now, with a focus on the former Leeds man.

‘We will change, but I think fans know 4-2-3-1 will be our preferred choice all the way home,’ said the manager.

‘Eoin Doyle fits into a 4-2-3-1 – but so does Noel Hunt.

‘In our pursuit of wanting Michael to work, not forcing Michael to work, other lads may not have had minutes they possibly should.

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‘We’ve now got the opportunity with Michael going out on loan for other lads to come into the equation. I do think you’ll see the emergence of Noel Hunt within that.

‘I do think now we can concentrate on the run-in.

‘The window is closed and we need as much positivity at possible.’

After the flurry of January transfer activity, Cook’s squad is now assembled for the League Two run-in.

Four players have been recruited, with Adam Buxton’s contract cancelled and Ben Close departing on loan along with Smith.

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That leaves the Blues with a squad of 24 players for the remaining games of the campaign.

Cook believes history at Fratton Park shows recruitment to be an issue – and working with the players available is key.

He added: ‘One of the big things now is we have no issues with moving players out. All of our players will go within a heartbeat.

‘It’s not the “out” door which is the most important door it’s the “in” door. That’s the difficult door.

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‘At Portsmouth we’ve seen that many people at the exit door, how many good ones have we seen come in?

‘Plymouth have taken Ryan Taylor and Nathan Blissett. Carlisle have got Jamie Proctor and George Waring.

‘Everyone expects a signing to solve your problems. Work hard at what you do.

It’s about getting the best out of the players here.’