Defenders up Pompey returns in Premier League Cup

Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

Loyalty set to be Cook’s Pompey policy in League One

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Jack Whatmough continues his return to full fitness in the Premier League Cup tonight.

And Adam Buxton is set to set up his bid for a first-team return as the Blues open their group stage campaign at Norwich City.

Carrow Road will host the first of the Blues’ six group D fixtures after they made it through to the latest stage of the under-23 competition.

And a number of Paul Cook’s first-team squad are likely to pick up minutes.

Cook has indicated everyone who didn’t travel to Blackpool on Tuesday night will be involved.

So that means Buxton and Whatmough are set to be joined by the likes of Brandon Haunstrup, Dominic Hyam, Adam May and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain.

There is also likely to be playing time for Calvin Davies and Alex Bass, who are on loan at Bognor and Salisbury respectively.

Cook explained the strength of the side is impacted by the first-team fixtures but is still expecting an entertaining clash.

He said: ‘We got back from Blackpool at 5am, so that 18 will not be considered.

‘So we’ll go to Norwich and it’ll be a good night for us but a tough night. The lads who travelled will not be involved.

‘We won’t be fielding our strongest team on the night. Anyone who didn’t make the bench on Tuesday will play.

‘We’ll go with everything we can. But with Hunt, Talbot and Close being injured it will have a knock-on effect into that team.’

Pompey also face home and away games against Wolves and Everton in the months ahead after winning two qualifying matches.

But Cook underlined Saturday’s League Two game against Doncaster has to be the one in Pompey’s sights.

That means there will be a presence from Academy players tonight after the slog back from Bloomfield Road on Tuesday.

Cook said: ‘The biggest fixture is Donny, so we’ll prepare well for that.

‘There’s a lot of travelling involved at the minute. The 
senior staff won’t be travelling. You can’t do Blackpool and then Norwich.

‘We have three games in a week coming up.

‘So it’s unfair on the lads to travel to Blackpool and then travel to Norwich and then get back from there at 4am.

‘Then some of them would have to be involved against Donny on Saturday.

‘The biggest game after Blackpool is Doncaster.

‘So we must prepare for Doncaster.’

– JORDAN CROSS

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