Michael Appleton vowed his young guns will go for the jugular in tomorrow’s south coast showdown.
Appleton believes his troops face their toughest test since he became Pompey manager, as they step out in the heat of derby day battle against league leaders Southampton.
The Blues travel to St Mary’s fighting for their Championship lives with six games remaining.
Appleton is under no illusions of the task his side face against their fierce promotion-chasing rivals.
But he has sensed the fire in the Blues following the 5-1 home thumping against Burnley last weekend.
The 36-year-old backed the youthful elements of his squad to stand up and be counted in enemy territory.
And he promises Pompey will go on the front foot as they search for a result to spark their survival bid.
Appleton said: ‘We’re coming up against the team at the top of the league who have played as good a football as most.
‘We won’t get any bigger test. It’s the biggest one we’ve had so far as a group.
‘We haven’t had a midweek game this week and that’s helped us.
‘It’s helped us to come together and get some decent training in.
‘We did some work with them and I’m sure they will go about it in the right manner.
‘We’ll be going there to play Southampton. We certainly won’t be going there to hang in there.
‘If there’s one thing I can guarantee it is that we’ll be going there to win the game.
‘They are young lads and a young team. I make no apologies for that.
‘But I think they will handle it. I think last week was a big learning curve.
‘We will certainly give it a good go. We aren’t going there to defend or try not to lose. There’s not enough games left to do that.
‘We don’t want to be on the back end of a hiding at our biggest rivals.
‘But we’re going to try to win the game and be as positive as we can.
‘Sometimes you just get an impression with them around the training ground.
‘I think they are pretty much ready for the game. That’s the impression I get.’
Appleton revealed he gathered his men for an inquest in the wake of the weekend loss to Burnley, which dealt a big blow to Pompey’s hopes of staying up.
He stressed the importance of keeping the faith in the cut and thrust of his team’s bid for survival.
Appleton said: ‘I sat them down before training.
‘We spoke about four or five key areas on the field.
‘It was a chance to reflect on what we did and didn’t do well over a five-or-six-week period.
‘The result last Saturday highlighted it was needed even more.
‘It was to remind them of what we do on and off the field from a discipline point of view.
‘That’s how we deal with disappointments when there is a poor decision from the referee, or conceding a goal in the first minute of the second half.
‘The message to the players was that, if we concede, we need to trust what we are doing.’