Appleton: Midfielder has key role to play

Kelvin Etuhu is expected back at Pompey next season
Kelvin Etuhu is expected back at Pompey next season
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Michael Appleton has earmarked Kelvin Etuhu for a key role in Pompey’s rebirth.

The Blues boss expects to see the midfielder back at Fratton Park in League One next season.

Appleton is planning a monumental squad overhaul in the coming months and will clear the decks ahead of the new campaign.

But the 36-year-old has revealed he does see a future at the club for the midfielder.

Etuhu arrived on a short-term deal in January following his release from prison for his role in a brawl in Manchester.

The 23-year-old went on to make 13 appearances, scoring a single goal for his team.

Etuhu delivered a much-needed injection of pace for Pompey throughout the finale to the campaign.

And Appleton expects to see him remain for his first full season in charge.

Etuhu has already pledged he would be keen to join the club’s bid to bounce back into the Championship at the first attempt.

The Nigerian-born talent was understood to have been one of Pompey’s lowest earners, on around £2,500 per week.

That fits nicely into the wage structure the club will need to operate on next season, if they can stave off the threat of liquidation this summer.

Appleton said: ‘I would certainly hope Kelvin will be here.

‘He’s one of the lucky ones in terms of the fact he was always going to be a longer-term player when he came in.

‘He’s a good possibility, especially when you look at the age and the football he missed because of what happened.

‘He’s a good one to keep around.’

Etuhu’s promising career hit the rocks following his imprisonment, which led to his contract with Manchester City being terminated.

Appleton was prepared to give the player another chance after his release from prison, however, and has been impressed with his attitude.

During his time at Pompey, Etuhu has expressed his regret at his part in the incident – as well as showing his appreciation towards Appleton for giving him a second chance.

Appleton believes Etuhu has the kind of character he can work with moving forward.

And the Pompey manager backed himself to get the best out of the player.

Appleton said: ‘He’s a really nice lad.

‘That’s the problem in football, sometimes perceptions put you off players.

‘You hear this and that but sometimes you have to go with your gut when you get a feeling about a person.

‘Maybe I will be able to deal with him differently to the way other managers do.

‘You back yourself to deal with them differently.’