Cook: Let’s see how Pompey rivals handle heat

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Bradley Dack put Rovers in front on 38 minutes Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey have felt the weight of expectancy on their shoulders.

Now Paul Cook wants to see how the Blues’ rivals handle the pressure as the heat gets turned up in the League Two promotion race.

Cook’s side found themselves 10 points off leaders Doncaster going into this weekend’s fixtures.

But the Pompey boss isn’t letting Darren Ferguson’s side disappear in the distance.

He wants to see how they and the sides above his team react to being in the driving seat.

Cook said: ‘They haven’t felt it (pressure) yet. We feel that every single weekend.

‘People talk about giving up on Doncaster. I don’t think anyone should give up.

‘I would not give up on anyone in this league.

‘Our lads have to deal with the incessant pressure of this club. Our lads seem to respond.

‘Every time they need a result they seem to produce it.

‘Our lads seem to play better under that pressure rather than when we’re expected to win and the pressure levels go down.

‘I enjoy the pressure. I think pressure for good players is healthy. People who perform will perform better under pressure.’

Carlisle and Plymouth, led by Derek Adams, left, are the other teams who occupy the top three positions.

The Cumbrians have hit a drop in form after a 3-1 loss to Grimsby was followed up with a 4-1 reverse to Colchester.

With the teams below the top three beginning to show powerful form, Cook can’t see the pacesetters keeping their places at the head of the pack.

Again, Cook feels it’s easy for doubt to creep into sides as they don’t have things all their own way.

He said: ‘You only have to look at the league at the moment and see the Barnets, Wycombes, Cambridges and Colchesters.

‘There are so many teams on a run. There’s so many teams beating each other.

‘I don’t see the top three at present being the top three.

‘It’s only my opinion but I genuinely don’t.

‘You only have to look at results.

‘Look at Carlisle. Imagine what their dressing room was like this weekend.’

After crossing the halfway point of the season, the teams above Pompey appear to be well on course to top the 80-point threshold associated with automatic promotion in League Two.

Accrington missed out on going up on goal difference last season, despite picking up 85 points.

Cook doesn’t believe his team will need to get near that return to be celebrating.

He said: ‘Every point above 80 will see you promoted.

‘If I was a Pompey fan and we got to 85 points would I be disappointed? No.

‘I don’t think it will be as high as 85 this year.

‘We just need to win, move on, train hard and get to the next game. Just keep going now.’