Paul Cook faces tough call in Pompey strikeforce

Paul Cook admits it has been a difficult call as he searches for the right FA Cup attacking combination tomorrow.

The Pompey boss is without on-loan forward Caolan Lavery for the second-round Cup clash with Accrington Stanley at Fratton Park as parent club Sheffield Wednesday do not want him cup-tied.

Conor Chaplin scored in the friendly draw with Bournemouth in midweek Picture: Colin Farmery

Conor Chaplin scored in the friendly draw with Bournemouth in midweek Picture: Colin Farmery

Fellow loanee Mark McNulty looks certain to play, Kyle Bennett is likely to join him, and Gareth Evans and Adam McGurk appear to be vying for one place out wide.

But Conor Chaplin may have just edged out the fit-again Jayden Stockley for the other available forward spot.

Cook said: ‘I’ve made my decision and it was a difficult call.

‘You’ve got both of those lads wanting to play and they both offer different qualities.

I’ve made my decision and it was a difficult call

Paul Cook

‘I believe there is a pecking order at football clubs and lads have to earn that right.

‘It will be more picked on that than anything.

‘When we play Accrington, our job is to hurt them, get after them and score goals.

‘So we will pick people we believe will give us firepower.

‘Jayden and Conor are both good players and it’s a toss of a coin.

‘Jayden has had a massive impact when he played in the Capital One Cup and Conor has scored goals without playing many minutes on the pitch.

‘You could debate the point all night and there is a case for both players to play.

‘Conor scores goals and Jayden gives us a bit more physicality.

‘You make a decision and go with it.’

Aside from looking for the right combination between his players, Cook might also be wary of Stockley’s lack of match fitness after two months out.

Meanwhile, Chaplin has often been used an impact substitute.

But Cook maintains the most important aspect is developing the relationships between the players.

He said: ‘If Lavery would have been available, the likelihood is that Gareth Evans would have come in and it would have been the team that beat York.

‘All the time, we are trying to get continuity in what we do.

‘But in the past three games Bennett, McGurk and Evans have all missed a game.

‘When you win a game 6-0, why would you change a team? You wouldn’t.

‘But we want lads buying into what we are doing, we had these games in mind and lads had already been told that we needed to look at a few combinations.

‘With the way Lavery stretches a game, it makes Bennett and other people look better players.

‘With that movement at the top of the pitch, it makes a difference for him.

‘But when Matt Tubbs plays, he needs crosses into the box.

‘They are all good players but it’s about finding that chemistry together.’