Cotterill: We’ve been lucky

Steve Cotterill feels Pompey have got lucky with injuries
Steve Cotterill feels Pompey have got lucky with injuries
Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill dismissed claims Pompey have been the victims of a succession of bad breaks this season and declared: We’ve been lucky.

The Blues have walked a selection tightrope all season as they attempted to get through the campaign with a skeleton squad.

And Cotterill felt their position of 20th in the table going into today’s match at Doncaster could have been a lot worse if more injuries had taken their toll.

Pompey’s plan of working with quality over quantity appeared to pay dividends in a profitable autumn spell that saw them collect 19 points from a possible 21 to propel the Blues from the foot of the table into the top 10.

But after sliding towards the relegation zone after a 10-match winless run dating back to December 11, the priority is to ensure the club remains in the Championship.

Cotterill insisted things could have been a whole lot worse had injuries played a more significant role.

He said: ‘When you look at it, we have ridden our luck this season with injuries, suspensions or players not being able to train.

‘When people have said we’re unlucky at Portsmouth, I think we’ve actually been incredibly lucky this season with injuries and suspensions.

‘Steve Allen, the physio, has been as busy this week as anybody on the training pitch. It’s not ideal when you are in that scenario.

‘But we’ve been incredibly lucky to get this far. Now we’ve got to tough it out and see it over the line.’

Bad luck may have played its part on the pitch at times this term but Cotterill knows he has got off lightly with injuries and suspensions.

Last season, former Pompey boss Avram Grant had up to eight first-team players on the treatment table towards the end of the campaign.

Had Cotterill been faced with a similar injury list, he simply would not have been able to field a side.

But while the current Blues manager has been fortunate to dodge the more serious injuries, Grant boasted a squad of more than 25 players even during the dark times of Pompey’s financial demise – a luxury Cotterill can only dream about.

Cotterill is still on the hunt for an emergency loan player – with a left-sided midfielder his priority – but he admitted it remained a difficult mission.

He said: ‘It’s a lot harder than some people think. The first thing is finding that player and that’s not easy in itself.

‘Then when you find him in that one specific position, you’ve then got to leave one of your other loan players out of the squad because we can only use a maximum of five.

‘Say I found a wide left player and then left Carl Dickinson – just for example – out of the squad because Hermann (Hreidarsson) is playing. Then what happens if Hermann got injured?

‘It’s an impossible situation but we’re doing our best with it.’