Utaka hails Cotterill impact

Nigerian forward feels rejuvenated under current Pompey boss

Utaka: Back to his best

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John Utaka has thanked Steve Cotterill for helping to salvage his faltering Portsmouth career.

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The Nigerian has struggled for consistency throughout his time with Pompey, leading many to question the £7million splashed out to land him from Rennes in 2007.

The 28-year-old has, however, been one of the club's standout performers in the Championship this term, impressing on a regular basis.

Utaka believes Cotterill is responsible for helping to turn his fortunes around, filling him with confidence and believing in his ability.

He said in The News: "I'm honestly enjoying the games and enjoying my football

"When I'm happy I can perform at my best level.

"It's a collective effort. Everyone's doing well and I'm enjoying being a part of it. I'm happy with my performances. I'm happier now. When you are happy that is when you produce.

"Steve's helped me, and he's a good manager. It's important for a manager to understand the players, and he does that. The motivation is there to play for him. He has everything in place and it's not difficult to operate with him.

"He's a very good manager and I'm happy working with him."

Strength

Utaka has been moved from a central forward role onto the left flank this season, with the position not a natural fit for a right-footed player.

He is convinced he can do a job on the wing, though, with his creative abilities ensuring he remains a considerable threat to opposition defences.

He said: 'It's fine playing on the left. It's an advantage because I cut in on my right foot and in-swing. I can cut in and play one-twos off the striker to make opportunities.

"It's not my greatest strength but I am happy to try to perform there. I've got options when I play there.

"If I'm helping the team to head in the right direction, that's fine."