Evans: Pesky Conor Chaplin shows no Pompey fear

He's the teenager possessing the unshakable confidence of a seasoned professional.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 6:30 am
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler

And Gareth Evans is convinced ‘fearless’ Conor Chaplin is destined for a bright footballing future.

The 19-year-old continues to shine in a breakthrough season which has yielded nine goals from 32 games.

A return of five goals from the bench demonstrates Chaplin’s effectiveness even when granted the briefest of first-team appearances.

Gareth Evans believes Conor Chaplin has a great future. Picture: Joe Pepler

Similarly, his self-confidence is just as eye-catching.

The striker often pops up when team-mates are being interviewed, standing close-by without muttering a word in an attempt to distract.

He usually succeeds too.

And for Evans, the youngster’s bold demeanour can be the making of him.

Gareth Evans believes Conor Chaplin has a great future. Picture: Joe Pepler

The midfielder said: ‘He’s a pest and a nightmare!

‘Actually, he’s not a nightmare, he’s a really good lad to have around the place.

‘Although every time I do an interview he seems to be stood there for some reason, I don’t know why that is.

‘Conor’s good to have on the pitch and off the pitch everyone loves him. You would never guess he was 19, though.

‘Most 19-year-olds walk around with their head down trying to stay out of stuff, but Conor is looking to get involved in things most of the time.

‘I like that about him, it’s just part of his personality.

‘Everyone sees his confidence and that is why he is the player he is to be honest.

‘He is a joker off the field and not short of confidence so takes that onto the pitch and that helps in terms of his goalscoring and what he contributes.

‘Sometimes needs a clip round the ear to shut him up, but he’s a good lad.’

Chaplin has not started a match since netting his ninth goal of the campaign at Exeter earlier this month.

Instead, he continues to be a regular option off Paul Cook’s bench, the latest outing being a five-minute cameo against Mansfield on Saturday.

It was not even a year ago when the youngster from Worthing scored his maiden Blues goal in a 3-1 defeat at Morecambe in April 2015.

Since then he has continued to demonstrate his delicious potential, registering against Championship sides Derby, Reading and Ipswich in cup competitions this term.

Only the on-loan Marc McNulty, with a return of 10, has outscored Chaplin so far during the current campaign.

And Evans continues to be impressed with the teenager contracted to Pompey until the summer of 2018.

He added: ‘We have seen this season that if there is half a chance, whether taking a touch or snapshot, he has managed to put the ball into the back of the net. Let’s hope that continues.

‘Conor’s a bit of a fearless character, he really doesn’t seem to get bothered by anything.

‘It’s the same in training, he’ll miss a chance and then two seconds later will score and make up for it. Conor is very headstrong.

‘He’s a really good player and I’m sure will have a fantastic career, whether that is with Portsmouth or somebody else.’