Cotterill: Play-offs still top goal

David Nugent attempts to break the deadlock against Boro and push Pompey further up the Championship table
David Nugent attempts to break the deadlock against Boro and push Pompey further up the Championship table
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Steve Cotterill reiterated his Pompey vision and insisted: The play-offs are still our goal.

The Blues currently stand nine points off the prized positions after Saturday’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough.

With nine games this season remaining, it will take a massive ask to break into those four places ahead of current incumbents Norwich, Cardiff, Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

Not that such a seemingly-daunting task has dampened Cotterill’s ambitions.

Pompey’s Championship safety may be assured – not bad for a side who, back in September, spent 27 days at the bottom of the league table.

But Cotterill is not content to lie back and simply accept survival with seven weeks of the campaign still remaining.

He said: ‘I still think our goals are to keep pushing forward and finishing as high as we can.

‘We have come this far now, we’ve got nine games to go, we’ve got nine big efforts.

‘Who knows where it will lead us?

‘When you are there, your natural instincts make you a little bit more greedy, so you want a bit more.

‘That’s what this game does to us. It is such a passionate game, it’s what it does to all of us.

‘Safety is not good enough.

‘The play-offs are still there, they are still reachable, so that’s what we are still striving for.

‘We have got ourselves in the situation where we don’t need to look down any more. Therefore, we have to look up.

‘We want to look up, we want to look forward and we want to be positive.

‘There has been so much negativity around the football club – that is probably one of my personal achievements and personal goals this season in trying to put a positive spin on everything.

‘But for people to still be talking about the play-offs, it’s not too bad.’

Cotterill believes the unpredictability of the Championship means the Blues still have every chance of achieving their goal.

On Saturday, second-placed Swansea lost at struggling Derby, while Millwall cruised to a 3-0 win at Burnley.

Other unexpected results included Doncaster pulling off a goalless draw at play-off contenders Nottingham Forest. And, for Cotterill, such results continue to fill him with hope.

There were some funny results on Saturday and I am not surprised,’ he said.

‘We were one of them – we were a coupon-buster.

‘With what has happened, people would have put Portsmouth down as a home win, so credit to Middlesbrough.

‘No disrespect to Doncaster, people would have put Forest down to win – it was a draw.

‘People would have put Burnley down for a home win and then they go and get beaten 3-0 by Millwall.

‘In all these games you get a funny Saturday and that was Saturday – for results you wouldn’t necessarily gauge.

‘We are still looking at the play-offs.’