Pompey readied themselves for another defining weekend in their push for promotion, with Paul Cook insisting: We have the players to achieve success.
Play-off-chasing Carlisle are the visitors to Fratton Park for this afternoon’s crunch clash (3pm) as the Blues look to build on their morale-boosting 4-0 win over Notts County on Good Friday.
With Easter Monday’s televised encounter at AFC Wimbledon falling victim to the weather, Cook’s side are looking to complete back-to-back home victories and cut the eight-point gap to third-placed Plymouth.
And Pompey’s manager maintains he has both the quality and quantity within his 24-man squad to achieve his objectives.
Cook said: ‘We have got a really good squad available and I think within that squad nigh on every option you want.
‘I have probably got too many players. I don’t really have an optimum number in mind, it changes.
‘But I always like quality over quantity, rather than the opposite way.
‘In training on Thursday morning, it was 11 v 11 – the game ended 2-2. There was nothing in it.
‘So it’s very difficult picking which players to start and formations to pick.
‘But if you look at our performances in general – away from home at Accrington and the way we won against Bristol Rovers and Cambridge – it is well within our players to achieve success.’
The emergency loan window slammed shut last week with Cook making just one addition to his squad – Bolton loan striker Conor Wilkinson.
Signed as cover for fellow forward Michael Smith, whose 93-day stay on the south coast is up before the end of the season, the Blues boss admitted the Irishman’s arrival was one made out of necessity.
But with six loanees and only five places in the match-day squad, Cook is now faced with the task of accommodating all his temporary players.
He said: ‘Conor Wilkinson was brought in purely because of Michael Smith’s situation.
‘If Michael Smith’s situation would have been different then I probably wouldn’t have brought anybody in.
‘And I had the ability to bring people in. But we can’t stop our own players from playing – that’s gone on for too long and you end up with too many players.
‘By the time we want to bring someone in it is because we don’t think someone within the squad is going to get us where we think we can go.
‘The important thing is we give every player within the squad that chance to prove whether they can or not.
‘There’s five loanees now so that’s a difficult one to manage.
‘But if you were going to leave Paul Jones in, the likelihood is you might not have Ryan Fulton on the bench to allow the others. That’s just one of the scenarios – you have to pick five from six.’
A groin injury to Wilkinson rules him out of today’s game with Carlisle.