Midfielder delight at Michael Smith's Pompey presence
Michael Smith is these days eyed as an ally rather than footballing enemy.
Certainly Michael Doyle is thankful to consider the towering striker as a Fratton Park team-mate at present.
Pompey head to AFC Wimbledon today (12.45pm) seeking to build on the Good Friday demolition of Notts County.
It presents an opportunity for striker Smith to line-up against the club he served for six months during the 2013-14 season.
It was a spell which would yield 10 goals from 25 appearances, including netting in the November 2013 hammering of Guy Whittingham’s Blues.
That 4-0 Kingsmeadow result would be Whittingham’s penultimate match in charge before his dismissal.
These days, Smith is on loan at Pompey from Swindon to serve alongside Doyle, a regular opponent in League One last term.
And the Blues’ skipper is delighted to have the 24-year-old among Paul Cook’s ranks.
He said: ‘Michael was great against Notts County and fair play to him, he did a lot of the hard work.
‘He has great feet for a big man, linked up the play well and it was just a shame for him he didn’t get his goal, but that will come.
‘He does all the hard work and the likes of Marc McNulty comes on and gets his goal, which people probably overlook at times.
‘At Mansfield he didn’t get his goal but was probably one of the better performers on the day so you have got to give him credit.
‘I played against Michael four times last year and am surprised he didn’t move on somewhere in the summer considering the way he performed.
‘He was brilliant when I came up against him, one of the best players in League One. I felt it was a coup when we got him.
‘He went to Barnsley earlier this season and it didn’t work out for him, but sometimes that happens and I am glad I am playing with him rather than against him because he is a rightful handful to face, I can tell you.
‘Michael just gets on with his business, he’s a very quiet lad, great to have around, no airs or graces, just perfect for us.’
Smith has been something of a slow burner since his Pompey arrival, netting once in 10 outings.
Yet with starts in the last two matches, he is steadily building up momentum, culminating with a Blues best on Friday.
And Doyle believes Cook’s faith in the striker is starting to bring out his best.
He added: ‘Sometimes with players it is down to managers and confidence.
‘This manager, give him his credit, sticks with the players and has belief in them – such as Michael.
‘At times this year Kyle Bennett has struggled a little bit because of the expectation but the manager has had so much belief in him.
‘Kyle will look back at the end of his career and I am sure will be grateful having a manager like that who really sticks with his attacking players.
‘He is a great man-manager, when crowds are looking for change it would be easy to do, but he has a belief in his players, which gives them confidence.’