Cotterill: Threadbare squad not to blame for Hornets defeat

Fan-funder Steve McLenaghan cuts the ribbon to officially open the Tifosy pitches at Pompeys Copnor Road training base. Also included are, from left, James Pollock, Tifosy, Blues chief executive Mark Catlin, manager Kenny Jackett, academy boss Mark Kelly and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Ken Ellcome. Fans were also present at the opening ceremony

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Pompey's dismal Watford defeat should not be blamed on his paper-thin squad, insisted Steve Cotterill.

But the Blues will be bolstered by the return of Liam Lawrence today against Hull.

Cotterill had just 15 players at his disposal at Vicarage Road on New Year's Day.

Among them was the injured Ricardo Rocha and 20-year-old debutant Tim Kilbey, who came off on the bench in the second half.

The Blues went on to lose 3-0 to Malky Mackay's in-form side, while Greg Halford was sent off late on for violent conduct.

Lawrence (ineligible), Dave Kitson (suspended) and Michael Brown and Richard Hughes (contract disputes) all watched the game from the stands.

But Cotterill refused to point the finger for the loss at the lack of players to select from.

He said: 'We had 11 players who took to the field. Correct me if I am wrong, but Watford had 11 as well.

'I don't want to make any excuses for our team performance.

'Watford were better than us, they deserved their win.

'They were very magnanimous when we beat them at our place so I think we should be magnanimous in defeat and say to them "well done". They were better than us.

'It looked like a couple of times this season when we have had games and a lot of the team haven't played well on the day.

'We spoke about not dwelling on the ball because they are a young, energetic side that get about you.

'We did okay at Norwich, we did okay at Swansea, we did okay at Leeds.

'Maybe we were due a bad one away from home and it was Watford.'