Cook ready to welcome Gareth Evans back into Pompey side

  • Gareth Evans netted three times in 14 appearances before his Cambridge United red card
  • Midfielder vying with Naimisth and Boco for a starting spot at Notts County

Gareth Evans has served his punishment for the Abbey Stadium crime.

Now he’s back in the Pompey frame – and Paul Cook admits the midfielder has been missed.

Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans had been a regular choice on the right-hand side of the attacking midfield three up until his Cambridge United dismissal.

Before that stoppage-time red card he had amassed three goals in 14 appearances.

During his absence, second-placed Pompey have maintained their promotion push, with a win and two draws.

Yet with a return of two goals in those fixtures, more cutting edge is clearly required.

We have needed people who run past the ball, get into the box and score so of course we have missed Gareth

Paul Cook

And Evans could well be the player to provide it at Notts County on Saturday.

Cook said: ‘You become a better player sometimes when you are out of the team and the team isn’t winning.

‘Then again Gareth was withdrawn at half-time against Yeovil! But he is part of our squad and a good player.

‘He’s a threat, he penetrates, runs forward and scores goals, it’s something that sometimes our team has lacked at home.

‘We have needed people who run past the ball, get into the box and score so of course we have missed him, but it’s the nature of the game.

‘Gareth has great energy to run forward, it can be difficult running forward at times when there are no areas to penetrate.

‘Last week we played three times which means you do not train a lot because of the games, so the actual permutations you work on on the training ground is difficult.

‘We haven’t seen all the formulas yet, but will just keep working on it.’

While Evans is back from suspension, Pompey are again missing ankle injury victims Gary Roberts and Jayden Stockley.

Cook must decide whether Rommy Boco or Kal Naismith drop out to accommodate Evans in his starting XI.

Another consideration is in attack, where Caolan Lavery was the lone striker in the goalless draw with Mansfield.

Pompey’s boss will be well aware Matt Tubbs has netted three goals in his last two away appearances.

Elsewhere in the squad, Michael Poke is now training outside following his collarbone injury, although won’t join in with full training until next week.

That means Alex Bass will continue on the bench as back up to Brian Murphy, while Paul Jones is still a month away from returning.