EDDIE HOWE believes Pompey are better equipped for a League Two promotion challenge this season.
The AFC Bournemouth boss feels Paul Cook’s side are now stronger than when the two clubs met in the FA Cup last season after some shrewd summer business.
And with the Blues boss still on the hunt for new recruits, Howe expects Pompey to improve on last season’s efforts.
He was impressed with the way the hosts played as the two teams drew 3-3 in the friendly match at Fratton Park on Saturday.
He thinks they have everything in place on and off the field as well to move up out of League Two this season.
Howe said: ‘I think Pompey will be very strong this season.
‘I said the same thing last season when we played them in the FA Cup.
‘I think they are very well managed and coached.
‘The guys here have done an outstanding job.
‘I don’t want to curse them but I think they will do very well this season.
‘I thought they were a very good team last season and with a bit more luck, I think they would have achieved their goal then.
‘I think they are possibly stronger this season and they have got everything needed.
‘Off the pitch, they look like they have got everything going in the right direction as well so good luck to them.’
Howe’s side returned from a USA tour only on Thursday and the Cherries boss admitted fatigue had played its part in the result.
He said: ‘It’s been a tough schedule for the boys.
‘We landed back in the UK on Thursday and there is always a little bit of fatigue after a long journey.
‘We had to dig in but then we were disappointed not to win the game.
‘You want that winning habit and the confidence that brings.
‘We conceded some poor goals and that is something we will go away and look at.
‘We knew Portsmouth would give us a good test and we got exactly that.’