Pompey boss: Marc McNulty will return to my side

Marc McNulty. Picture: Joe Pepler
Marc McNulty. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Marc McNulty has scored eight goals in 19 appearances during his loan spell from Sheffield United
  • Last season Michael Smith netted 18 times for League One Swindon

Paul Cook is adamant Marc McNulty will find a way back into his Pompey starting line-up.

But the Blues manager has praised the ‘excellent’ contribution of striking rival Michael Smith.

The reality for Marc is he doesn’t have to do anything to get back into the team – he will find himself in it naturally

Paul Cook

McNulty has found himself on the bench for the last two fixtures – despite being joint-top scorer with eight goals.

Smith has presently displaced the Scot as Cook’s lone front man after the pair initially started as a strike partnership.

Pompey head to Barnet tonight (7.45pm) in search of a victory to boost their promotion aspirations.

And although McNulty has recently been forced out of the frame, the Blues manager insists the Sheffield United loanee will one day return.

Cook said: ‘The reality of football is lads don’t play well every week.

‘If you get little breaks into your players every now and then – like we have with McNulty – then it can help.

‘He went a bit flat, everyone does, every club you are at players will go flat every now and again.

‘It is important in my book you don’t turn on your players.

‘McNulty is a good player. If 
he doesn’t play well on a Saturday, he is still a good player.

‘The reality for Marc is he doesn’t have to do anything to get back into the team – he will find himself in it naturally.

‘Just being here he will find a way back in – he is Marc McNulty.

‘Like every player at our club, we have faith and belief in them all.

‘Lads like Enda Stevens have probably dipped out in the last couple of games – and he has been fantastic this season.

‘You cannot play well every week and the disappointing thing is we haven’t found a way to win when we haven’t played particularly well.’

Smith, who arrived on a 93-day loan from Swindon last month, has scored one goal in four starts.

However, the tall striker has yet to complete a full 90 minutes as he attempts to establish himself in the side.

Regardless, Cook has been impressed with the 24-year-old.

He added: ‘I think Michael has been excellent, I have great belief in him and the whole squad.

‘In the first half against Yeovil, I thought he was excellent, then he drifted out of the game. But we have stopped putting crosses into the box.

‘We have now got a lad in the box and it’s like we have told them to stop crossing.

‘It seems we solve one problem and another arises – that is our inconsistency.

‘Michael is as good a target man as you will find at this level.

‘He has fantastic feet, is a brave lad, leads the line well and has an eye for a goal but if you don’t put certain balls in certain areas it won’t happen.

‘We never got up the pitch against Yeovil – but it’s still a game we got a point from.’