Cook: Fixtures in Pompey’s favour

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Paul Cook weighed up the run-in and promised: We couldn’t have hand-picked it better.

The Pompey boss believes the final 20 games of the campaign are suited for his team to make a run into the promotion places.

The Blues saw their trip to Crawley fall foul of the frost on Saturday.

That will mean another game having to be factored into their remaining 15 weeks of the campaign.

But Pompey have their three scheduled remaining midweek fixtures all at Fratton Park against sides facing lengthy trips. And Cook is pleased with what the fixture-fixing computer has served up to his men.

He said: ‘What we’ve got to make sure we do now is focus on how we get promoted.

‘We’ve got 11 games at home and nine away. There’s no travelling. The midweek games are all against northern teams travelling a long way.

‘They are three tough games against good teams, but there’s no travelling. I don’t think you could’ve hand-picked it better.

‘The travelling can be hard work. I have every respect for the Plymouths and Carlisles.

‘It’s tough. It’s not easy.’

Cook is pleased Pompey now have just the league to focus their attentions on.

Wycombe have forced themselves into the promotion picture, but are still going strong in the FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy.

Cook knows how such obligations can weigh heavy on league ambitions.

He said: ‘It’s all planned out now.

‘We have lovely training facilities. We have good training weeks ahead.

‘Our lads have the chance to prepare for games like we did building up to Crawley.

‘We have nothing to interrupt our preparation. As a manager you couldn’t ask for more.

‘If you’re playing Tuesday nights and Thursday nights travelling back from somewhere up north, you can end up going from game to game a bit. I’ve done it.

‘When I was at Chesterfield the final year we got to Wembley.

‘We had a two-legged semi-final with Fleetwood. They were big games. So all along there’s league games being missed and then you’re travelling.

‘You can get caught up in it.

‘You see teams in the Checkatrade and FA Cup. Good luck.

‘That’s part of a fantastic season for these sides, but I’d prefer the clear water we’ve got. We know exactly where we are, when we’re training and what we’ve got.’

Along with Wycombe, the likes of Colchester are showing impressive form and are hot on Pompey’s heels.

But Cook isn’t unduly concerned by the teams chasing the Blues.

He said: ‘We don’t need to worry about anyone. Nowadays with Cambridges, Lutons and Wycombes coming up involved it will happen. You will cut each other up.

‘That’s the nature of this game. We’ve just got worry about ourselves, stay on it and get those wins. Count those wins quickly.

‘Someone will put the league to bed, it looks like being Doncaster. If it is, fair play to them.

‘But anyone who puts runs together will get to where they want to be.’