Rocha poised for Russian friendly start

Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher gets away from Pompey's Ricardo Rocha
Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher gets away from Pompey's Ricardo Rocha
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Ricardo Rocha will be handed a rare Pompey start in tonight’s friendly with Russian side FC Rostov (7.30pm).

The Portuguese international has not lined up for Steve Cotterill’s men since the Carling Cup elimination by Barnet back in August.

Since then, Jason Pearce and Greg Halford have been the first-choice central defensive partnership.

The duo have impressed in Rocha’s absence, although the former Spurs man remains a fans’ favourite.

Rocha did feature for 22 minutes as a substitute in the weekend defeat to Leeds. He also came off the bench in the 1-0 success over Blackpool.

Now, with Cotterill looking to give some of his fringe players a runout tonight, Rocha will be named in the Fratton Park starting line-up.

Also in line for recalls are Aaron Mokoena, Luke Varney and Ryan Williams.

Mokoena has lost his right-back slot to Joel Ward over the past two games after initially picking up a back problem.

Varney is back following a three-match suspension.

The occasion also represents another opportunity for Williams to impress.

The 17-year-old has made five substitute appearances for the first team so far, while he started the 5-1 friendly defeat at Real Betis.

There may also be a runout for Marko Futacs.

The towering striker has international duty with Hungary under-21s on Saturday against Turkey. But he may be allowed to represent his club before joining up with his international team-mates.

Similarly, Norway don’t have an international match until next week. They face Cyprus in a Euro 2012 qualifier on Tuesday, October 11.

That could free up Erik Huseklepp to feature against FC Rostov. Compatriot Bjorn Helge Riise has not been selected for the international squad. As a result, he is expected to be involved tonight.

Definitely missing, though, is Liam Lawrence, who is on duty with the Republic of Ireland.

Tickets for tonight’s match can be purchased from the ticket office behind the Fratton end from 5pm.