Insider: Notts County v Pompey

Izale McLeod
Izale McLeod
Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler

Securing prized pair on Pompey’s thoughts

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This season is all about promotion for Notts County following relegation to League Two.

They have made no secret of the aim – the manager has been backed in the market and cannot possibly complain about not being given enough funds.

Ricardo Moniz himself has said it is promotion or failure, so has set the standard pretty high.

This is about bouncing back at the first attempt and to aid the Magpies more than 20 players were signed in the summer.

When they played Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup in August, Notts County had a bigger squad listed in the programme!

They have been very good at home – winning five of their last six – and that has formed the backbone to their season.

The defeat in the middle of that was against Plymouth, despite playing them off the park for 70 minutes. Then again, County do struggle to kill teams off at times.

In contrast, away from home they are a little bit soft, but having said that have taken the lead in a few of those matches.

They can score plenty of goals.

But defensively they have had problems and, in particular, struggled to find a centre-back pairing that the manager is happy with.

Alan Sheehan has been moved there from left-back and has now hit it off with Mike Edwards. The pair will again like up against Pompey.

Sheehan had previously impressed in that role during another loan spell when Sean Derry was manager. He is good on the ball and likes to play it out from the back.

There is a spine of experienced players but Moniz is trying to find a happy balance between attack and defence. The Magpies can be gung-ho.

Izale McLeod has five goals to his name since arriving in August and has done okay, despite not playing any pre-season fixtures for previous club Crawley.

You know if he gets a chance he will score and it has been a seamless transition for him, fitting in really well since joining in a £110,000 deal.

Liam Noble has without doubt been the star performer so far and is a creative, goal-scoring midfielder. For me, probably one of the best midfielders in this league.

If he carries on this way he can go on to play in the Championship.

He has had a problem with discipline in the past and was sent off three times last season, but has calmed down now and pops up in the box at the right time, as well as doing the defensive side.

Finally, in midfield there is former Manchester United player Alan Smith, now aged 35.

He has that experience and possesses the leadership skills, taking Liam under his wing a bit also. The way he goes about his business means he is a key player.