Boss keen to utilise Connolly’s nous

David Connolly returns to the Pompey fold after weeks out with a hamstring injury
David Connolly returns to the Pompey fold after weeks out with a hamstring injury

David Connolly’s Blues spell has reaped no goals from five starts, but Guy Whittingham is revelling welcoming the striker back into the fold.

The former Republic of Ireland forward has missed Pompey’s past four games with a hamstring problem but is back and available for tomorrow’s trip to Oldham.

The injury brought a temporary halt to a Fratton stay that had seen the diminutive front man fill the boots of Izale McLeod, who cut short his Blues career in order to return to MK Dons.

Despite his January switch, McLeod remains Pompey’s leading goalscorer this term, with 11 goals from his 27 games played.

His departure prompted caretaker boss Whittingham to scour the loan market and free agents roster for suitable replacements.

And while that has seen him try his luck with five new striking options – plus Academy graduate Ashley Harris – since the turn of the year, none have proven as deadly in front of goal as McLeod.

The most recent arrivals of Patrick Agyemang and John Akinde have offered a glimmer of hope, with their presence and power up front giving the Blues a different dimension in their forays forward.

Yet neither has hit the back of the net since debuting against Bournemouth on February 9, while James Keene has scored once from his seven loan games.

That has left Whittingham eagerly anticipating the return of Connolly – a striker who is yet to open his goal account for the Blues but one with vital experience at both Premier League and international level.

‘I think we’ve missed David’s experience up front,’ said Whittingham.

‘I think most players who have played for us up front have worked their socks off in the way they do.

‘David is one of those who does that, too. Obviously he’s got that little bit of nous and experience from his times before.

‘He’s back in training and will be in the squad for the Oldham game.’

It remains to be seen whether Connolly will walk back into the starting line-up for the game at Boundary Park.

But no matter who the boss opts for, Whittingham is hoping a full week of training between matches will show positive signs going forward.

‘I don’t think we’ve got it right just yet (up front),’ he said.

‘The priority is we make sure we’re solid defensively first of all.

‘That’s the dilemma for every coach – how much do you tinker with it, how much do you take that defensive solidarity away and be a bit more positive going forward?

‘But we’ve done some work on the training pitch, we’ve shown the forwards some videos on what we think they should be doing going forward, and we’ll work on it again in training today.

‘Sooner, over a period of time, hopefully we’ll be a bit more positive going forward.’