Pompey a world away from side sent to Coventry

David Nugent in action against Coventry on the opening day of the campaign
David Nugent in action against Coventry on the opening day of the campaign

Pompey boss praise for riding out defensive storm

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It may have been just eight months ago but it feels like a lifetime.

Pompey’s Championship opener took them to the Ricoh Arena to face Coventry on their return to the English game’s second tier.

Steve Cotterill’s men went into the game a club in disarray as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

A mess of a pre-season had seen them go into the match poorly prepared.

And then there was the squad that was woefully short of the depth and quality needed to be competitive at Championship level.

Fast forward to tonight’s return contest at Fratton Park and the side who will take on the Sky Blues will bear little resemblance to the one that kicked off the campaign.

Cotterill has had to do a wholesale dismantling and rebuilding job just to give Pompey the hope of remaining in the division.

The Blues boss expects three men – Jamie Ashdown, David Nugent and Hayden Mullins – to be in the starting 11 tonight from that day.

Cotterill said: ‘We’re a million miles away from where we were going into that Coventry game.

‘We were nowhere near fit and nowhere near ready.

‘There are probably three players who will be involved tonight from that game. That’s unbelievable.

‘Trying to do that in the season is unbelievable.

‘There will be no other team who have all of a sudden got three players in the side like that.

‘I don’t know if anyone looks deep enough into that.

‘I’m not sure how much thanks we get for doing the job we’ve done.

‘It’s a good job I get thanks from the fans – I’m not sure I would from anyone else.’

Cotterill has called on Pompey to come to terms with the formation problems Coventry will present tonight.

They have picked up a win and a draw in their past two games and will go with a diamond set-up in midfield the Blues will need to counter.

Cotterill said: ‘They play with a diamond, which we played against earlier in the season against Norwich.

‘We have to make sure we are right with their diamond.’