Pompey '˜pretty boy' lauds midfield tough guys
The '˜pretty boys' are delighted to have their bouncers in tow.
And it’s midfield muscle which Gary Roberts is convinced brings the best out of Pompey’s attacking capabilities.
Double act Michael Doyle and Danny Hollands continue to impress carrying out their holding roles within Paul Cook’s 4-2-3-1 system.
The Blues’ finest League Two moments this season have occurred when the pair have been in tandem, most recently Tuesday night’s classy 3-1 win at Accrington.
For Roberts, the experienced pairing allow the usual attacking threesome of himself, Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans to thrive.
And with Newport County visiting Fratton Park tomorrow, Doyle and Hollands will again be expected to patrol the midfield area with customary tenacity and bite.
Roberts said: ‘They make all the tackles, that is why they have cuts up and down their legs.
‘They are the hard lads in the team, taking the kicks and the whacks. It lets the pretty boys in front of them try to get on the ball and make things happen.
‘They are there to take the knocks and get us the ball – and do great in the middle of the park.
‘Even before injury, Dutchie (Hollands) had been solid. He knows the game, he knows were to put himself on the pitch.
‘That experience is important, especially in away games.
‘Young Ben Close went in and he is more of a footballer, but the pitches being bad at that time of the year were no help at all.
‘Dutchie and Doyle have been terrific for us, they are a good partnership.
‘From day one Doyle has been our leader, you see it on the pitch and off the pitch. He sorts everything out for us – a proper man and captain.
‘In a battle you know he will be after someone on the pitch.’
Roberts openly admits tackling is not really in his footballing make-up.
Although, his challenge on Stevenage’s Lee Cox did lead to the opening goal in last weekend’s 2-0 victory at Stevenage.
Dispossessing the midfielder, the 31-year-old then conjured up a sublime pass to release Marc McNulty to net past Jamie Jones.
An assist may not be a rare occurrence from the cultured Roberts, yet the tackle definitely was.
He added: ‘Before that, Josh Passley was my last tackle – on the first day of the season!
‘I try my best to keep out of those tackles. He took the ball off me before that so I had to try to get it back and the lad was dwelling on the ball.
‘It was a David Batty tackle!
‘I think that was the third or fourth tackle I have made in four years now! It is not one of my strong points, but you have to do it now and again, don’t you!
‘Tackling is an art, but you have to work hard. You have to try to hustle and bustle and work as hard as you can for the team and press them up front.
‘That’s your job, that is what is expected, then the pass is bread and butter for someone in the hole.
‘It’s nice to get an assist like that when you can slip the ball through.’