Boss plays down Tangerines comparisons

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Steve Cotterill talked down comparisons with Blackpool’s late-season run towards the play-offs last term and insisted: They were stronger than us.

Ian Holloway’s side chalked up six wins, one defeat and one draw in their final eight games in the Championship to propel themselves into sixth place and seal their spot in the play-offs.

The unfancied challengers then claimed their spot in the Premier League with a surprise two-leg victory over Nottingham Forest and then a play-off final success over Cardiff.

While Cotterill believes Pompey are still in with an outside chance of producing a late run into the top six, he knows his threadbare squad will have to avoid injuries to retain any hope.

But it’s understandable the manager is attempting to minimise the pressure on his troops and simply prepare for each game in isolation, rather than raise the expectation levels.

He said: ‘Blackpool maybe had a stronger squad this time last year. They maybe had more numbers.

‘That’s what bothers me – that and fatigue. It goes from game to game to game in this league.

‘That does result in injuries and we can’t afford to have that. That disrupts us.

‘But getting the win at Leicester last weekend kept us in with a chance of the play-offs.

‘Now we need a bit of luck and everyone to stay fit.

‘But you’ve got to keep the belief, you’ve got to have those dreams or you have got no chance.’

Saturday’s trip to fellow play-off hopefuls Reading will have a major bearing on Pompey’s aspirations.

But after a two-week break for the majority of the squad, Cotterill believes Pompey will go into the game brimming with confidence.

He said: ‘I think certainly over the past few weeks that they will have gained in confidence – not over-confidence, though.

‘If you were to ask any player, they would like to have that confidence all the time because it does allow them to do things they wouldn’t normally do.

‘They are not super-confident but they are more confident.

‘Even when we weren’t getting the results and there was not a lot wrong with the performances, they didn’t go to the depths of despair.

‘They haven’t done that this season.

‘I think it’s all credit to the boys. They’ve been through a lot this season, let alone what has gone before.

‘But it’s nice to see them confident as opposed to worrying about who’s going to be fit or where they are going to be in the table.

‘They are quite a level-headed bunch and they wouldn’t allow anyone else to be over-confident because they would be shot down in flames.

‘So nobody can get too carried away.’