Praise for loan pair as Pompey discover their spark

  • Lavery and McNulty have scored seven goals between them since loan arrivals
  • Pompey have netted 11 goals in their last four matches in all competitions

For Paul Cook, the Pompey building blocks are falling into place.

And he has credited the loan arrivals of Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty for kick-starting his side’s goal-scoring capabilities.

Caolan Lavery    Picture: Joe Pepler

Caolan Lavery Picture: Joe Pepler

The duo have netted seven goals between them having found themselves out of favour at Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United respectively.

It has been an input which dares to suggest concerns over Pompey’s cutting edge have now been resolved.

Even without Lavery against Accrington last weekend, the Blues still progressed into the third round of the FA Cup regardless.

The forward is now pushing for a return to the side against Hartlepool at Fratton Park tomorrow.

Does it mean we will beat Hartlepool? Not at all, it will be a very difficult game. But we have players in good form now

Paul Cook

Regardless, Cook has been delighted with their impact on his side.

He said: ‘I think if you look at our striking options now and our penetration in the final third we are looking a bit more lively.

‘We didn’t have the ability to stretch teams in those areas in the early part of the season.

‘Now all of a sudden if teams want to defend deep then good luck. McNulty and Lavery can hurt you.

‘It’s what we said at half-time against York, we can’t guarantee winning the game but what we can guarantee is the keeper must make three world-class saves.

‘The York result went well and since then the lads are getting more minutes together in general.

‘Does it mean we will beat Hartlepool? Not at all, it will be a very difficult game.

‘But we have players in good form now.

‘Carlisle defended very, very deep for long spells, but we still managed to create goal-scoring opportunities.

‘These lads and Kyle Bennett will make something happen in a tight area, through not just their ability to stretch games but their cleverness.

‘And that makes us look a better team.’

With Adam McGurk netting the only goal of the game against Stanley, Cook must decide whether he can fit Lavery into his starting XI.

He must also weigh up if Christian Burgess is to make a return to the team having been moved to the bench in the FA Cup victory.

Matt Clarke would be the most likely to make way for Burgess, who has been an ever-present in Pompey’s league campaign so far.

The summer recruit made 46 appearances for Pools during a loan spell from Middlesbrough in the 2013-14 campaign.

Gary Roberts, Paul Jones and Matt Tubbs remain on the sidelines.