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By ESPN Staff
Sep 28, 2007

Nugent pleads for chance in Premier League

David Nugent is pleading for another chance at Premier League level but Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp insists his £6million summer signing has to earn the right to play.

Nugent was dropped after just two league games following his move from Preston and has since started only two Carling Cup ties, scoring in both including Tuesday's win at Burnley, along with cameo roles from the substitutes' bench.

But just before the transfer window closed, Redknapp appeared ready to sell the England international if it would help him raise the money to strengthen his squad. And some pundits predict Nugent will be off-loaded in January.

The 22-year-old will play at home to Reading tomorrow only if Kanu, struggling with a knee injury, or co-striker Benjani Mwaruwari, carrying a thigh strain, fail late fitness tests.

But armed with a four-year contract, Nugent is still desperate to show he can score at the top level and said: 'I know that is what I've got to do because it is all about goals. They give you and the team more confidence and hopefully I will get more chances.'

Redknapp, however, pointed out: 'Costing a lot of money doesn't guarantee anything. You have to earn the right to play. David knows the situation here.

'It is great that we have terrific competition for places. I made 10 changes from the win at Blackburn last Sunday to the win at Burnley on Tuesday and they are all good players, all doing a good job.

'I roughly know my best team now but that can change. You only need a bad defeat or a player dropping his form and it is also sometimes dictated by a particular opposition.

'Otherwise you would pick the same team week in, week out if they all stayed fit.'

Redknapp has decided to base his team on strong, powerful athletes this term even though he is a great admirer of players like Kanu and Pedro Mendes.

Since the transfer deadline, Papa Bouba Diop, the 6ft 4ins Senegal player whom Fulham fans called `The Wardrobe', and fellow African Sulley Muntari have dominated Pompey's midfield.

Gary O'Neil has been sold and Mendes and Matt Taylor largely sidelined.

But Pompey have become difficult to beat again - after their difficult start against last season's top-four teams - with Sylvain Distin slotting in seamlessly at the back alongside Sol Campbell just as Linvoy Primus did last season.

Redknapp spent upwards of £30 million in the transfer market this summer although Frenchman Distin saved him a big chunk by staying at Manchester City an extra year to wind down his contract after the Pompey boss unsuccessfully bid £5.5million.

Redknapp said: 'I feel now like I've got a £6million player for nothing. City wanted to keep him and turned us down a year ago but now he's come here on a free transfer and been excellent.

'He has played all the games, including the cup ties, and fitted in with Sol just like Linvoy last season. He's quick, strong and an influence in the dressing room. That's why I've made him captain when Sol hasn't played.'

Redknapp admits: 'It's difficult for Linvoy. He was great again last season but he's on a long road back from his knee operation last May although he's nearly ready now and plays in the reserves on Wednesday.'

Popular Primus, 33, has no illusions about his task to break back in and initially wanted to face his old club Reading but he insists: 'I've done it before when people said I wouldn't be able to but I've still got a big faith in myself and once this knee thing is right I'll be challenging again.'