Appy facing end-of-season balancing act

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey are still clinging to their place in the Championship going into tonight’s clash with Crystal Palace.

But Michael Appleton already has one eye on planning ahead at Fratton Park.

Managing the faint survival hopes and looking towards a complete overhaul of the squad is proving a balancing act for the 36-year-old.

Appleton has made no bones about the fact he saw some players’ minds weren’t on the job at hand at Doncaster. And that is something he has quietly noted going into the meeting with the Eagles.

Appleton said: ‘Let’s not get stupid here. There are so many things which need to go our way to stay in the division.

‘It can still happen, though, so while it can still happen we will continue to have a bit of belief. Hopefully, we are then given the chance to completely wipe the slate clean and start afresh next year with a new squad.

‘Maybe, two or three of them, especially, gave me an idea of where their minds are in terms of next season on Saturday.

‘I’ll use that in the next three games.

‘I’ve got to get the balance right between thinking about the game and what we need for next season.’

Appleton has made it clear he expects professionalism from his men, especially with Pompey fans staying loyal to their team – as they showed at Doncaster on Saturday.

He said: ‘Even if we win all three games, all Bristol City need to do is look after their own shift.

‘But we’ll be professional, do what we can do and try to finish the season on a high.

‘If that’s good enough to stay in the division, so be it.

‘We will continue to fight as hard as we can.

‘I’m glad I’ve got two home games coming up because the fans will push and squeeze the ball into the back of the net.

‘Who knows if we live to fight another day? We’ll see where we are tonight.’