Appy: Howard can shine in new midfield role

Pompey skipper Brian Howard
Pompey skipper Brian Howard

Blues boss Michael Appleton believes Brian Howard can revel in his new midfield role.

Pompey fielded a 4-2-3-1 system against Swindon on Tuesday night.

That involved the skipper operating in a more advanced role, flanked by Jordan Obita and Jack Compton.

Behind them, Darel Russell and Lee Williamson anchored the midfield.

Pompey subsequently slipped to a 2-1 defeat to the Robins.

But Appleton was pleased with how his new system worked.

And, in particular, Howard, who was a constant threat on the ball in attacking situations.

He said: ‘Brian Howard was fantastic. I have seen him play there for Reading, just before he went out on loan to Millwall last season.

‘I was well aware that he could play that role and just wanted to get more control of the game and have a little bit more fluidity.

‘I think we did that and thought we looked a good side.

‘Brian brings a little bit of experience to that position.

‘What you’ll find is some people who play in that role keep coming towards the ball and, as they do, they go into the midfield area and get picked up by midfield players.

‘His movement is side-to-side so is always asking questions of their defenders and midfielders, and also getting into holes in between both and not getting on top of one.

‘I thought he did that great against Swindon.

‘He will also get goals. He was annoyed and upset with himself that he didn’t score that night because he had a couple of decent opportunities.

‘Brian linked up well with Izale McLeod and Izale picked him out a couple of times in the second half as well when he went on his little mazy run.

‘Hopefully they can build up a little bit of a partnership.’

Appleton must now decide whether to stick to the same system for the trip to Notts County.

The Magpies have enjoyed an excellent start to the season and currently sit third in League One.