Liam Lawrence prepared for one of the biggest games of his career and admitted: I hope my injury nightmare is over.
The Blues skipper has looked far more like his old self in recent weeks after shaking off the latest in a long run of injury problems that blighted his 2011.
Lawrence turned in his best display for some considerable time in the 2-0 win over Watford on Monday.
And he is relishing the prospect of pitting himself against Chelsea in tomorrow’s FA Cup third-round encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Lawrence said: ‘They don’t come much bigger than Chelsea.
‘It’s a big game for us but it’s a big game for them as well and they will be the ones under pressure.
‘We will need to do what we’ve been doing in the past couple of weeks.
‘We’ve kept things tight and we’ve played well – especially the last game against Watford.
‘If we’re on our game and they have an off day, you never know what can happen.’
The former Stoke man believes his display against Watford was his best for almost a year as he finds his match fitness with a run of games.
He said: ‘It was my best game for about 10 months, I think!
‘I’ve been injured since last January but I’ve had a run in the side now and I feel like I’m finding my legs again.
‘I knew it would take me a couple of weeks to get myself right again and it has done.
‘My passing was better, my forward play was good and I had the legs.
‘I just needed a run in the side to get that.’
It’s the first meeting between Pompey and Chelsea since the 2010 FA Cup final when the Blues, who had already been relegated and were in administration, went down by a single Didier Drogba goal.
There are few Pompey survivors from that side but tomorrow’s visitors will again be the underdogs.
Lawrence said: ‘It was a couple of years ago and their side has changed since then, as has ours.
‘Chelsea have got massive history. They’ve won a lot of trophies over the past 10 years and they’ve got world-class players.
‘It’s never easy going to Chelsea, even when they’ve won only one of their past five games.’
Pompey boss Michael Appleton, meanwhile, is relying on his experienced heads of Lawrence and Dave Kitson, left, to help his side through a stern examination.
He said: ‘I think it will help to have experience from the 2010 final, and beyond it, the likes lf Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson have played at these types of clubs in the Premier League.
‘The more players who play in this type of arena with this type of atmosphere, the better.
‘From what I’m hearing, it’s a sell-out so it will be good to have that bit of experience and know-how.
‘There will be a few players going into the unknown but we have a few who know what it is all about.’