Cotterill weighs up midfield options

Stanley Aborah and Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mansfield v Pompey: early team news

Steve Cotterill is weighing up turning to Aaron Mokoena to solve his midfield crisis.

Cotterill is considering breaking up Mokoena's central-defensive partnership with Ricardo Rocha in an effort to give him more options in the middle of the park.

Pompey go to Leeds today as they continue their busy Christmas period and run of four games in nine days.

The Blues are without Liam Lawrence at Elland Road – part of the conditions of his loan from Stoke – before his Fratton Park stay becomes permanent.

Michael Brown is also set to miss out unless a compromise can be met over the clause entitling him to a new deal with another appearance.

There have been no further developments on that front, while Richard Hughes can have one more squad appearance before he is in the same boat.

The Blues boss has reservations about taking Mokoena out of the backline, where he has performed better in his time at Pompey.

But he has already toyed with the idea in training and feels it may offer him the best solution to his selection issues in the coming games.

Cotterill said: 'We might be able to change a few things but it won't be a lot. We are what we are.

'Unless we can go and sign five players, there's nothing we can do.

'I might be able to move Aaron. It depends on where we go with a few things.

'Maybe I would, but I need to look at other things first before I do that.

'The only thing with central defence if you do that is you will be putting together players who have never played together.

'We've only been able to do that in training so far, and that has been difficult because of snow.

'But the lads are fit, strong and confident, so let's see how we go.'

Pompey are also walking a disciplinary tightrope as they go to Elland Road with Hayden Mullins, Carl Dickinson and Dave Kitson all on four bookings.

That five-card threshold is erased after today's clash, but a caution for any of those men rules them out of the trip to Watford on Saturday.

Cotterill can scarcely afford that, with his options already ridiculously stretched at a busy time of the season.

He insisted he has no problem with Hughes or Brown as their contract situation continues.

And he stated the fact he has already encountered more troublesome issues since coming into the job offers him solace with his current problems.

Cotterill said: 'They are all good lads and I can't fault them. Hughesy's Hughesy – we know he's a good lad.

'Is it the worst situation I've been in here?

Probably not. I've probably been in a lot worse positions going back to August.

'We have lads on four bookings going to Leeds and we have to be careful about that.

'We will need to do chopping and changing because of the contract situation here.

'You have to look closely at picking these teams because there's a knock-on effect.

'Our bench had five on it against Millwall.

'Five is a luxury, the most we've had is six.

'I get a but frustrated and annoyed sometimes.

'I survived what it was like when I arrived, so I'll survive this. It's something we just have to get around We just have to get teams out.'

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