Teenage Kicks: Pompey’s promotion rivals

Gareth Ainsworth, left. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Ainsworth, left. Picture: Joe Pepler

Loyalty set to be Cook’s Pompey policy in League One

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Hi fellow Pompey fans, my name is Ben Sturt.

I’m 17 years old and I’ve been a season-ticket holder in the Fratton end for as long as I can remember.

I am also the youngest member of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust’s Next Generations group, which tackles all issues that may concern younger Pompey fans.

I hope you enjoy my weekly column in the Sports Mail, describing the goings on at our club through the eyes of a younger supporter.

In the past couple of weeks I have looked at Pompey’s potential rivals in League Two.

So far I’ve run the rule over Accrington Stanley, Cambridge United, Luton Town and Plymouth Argyle.

This week I will wrap it up by surveying Notts County, Wycombe Wanderers, Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient.

Notts County

County have been mismanaged from the top for a while now, hence their slide down the footballing pyramid.

But with the appointment of John Sheridan, they have got someone who knows this division.

And an experienced head is what’s needed to unlock the potential of England’s oldest professional club.

A club without guidance has added much-needed experience on the pitch – by signing Jonathan Forte, Michael O’Connor, Adam Colin and former Pompey men Richard Duffy and Carl Dickinson.

There is no doubt in the quality individuals within County’s squad and you get the sense the Magpies may have a good go at it this year.

Wycombe Wanderers

Classed as a big League Two club but too small for League One, Wycombe will finally be hoping to show continuity is key and get promoted this season.

Play-off finalists two years ago, they just missed out on the top seven last season.

But Gareth Ainsworth has added experience and pace to the Chairboys’ squad – which should stand them in good stead for a charge to the top of the table.

Wycombe have gained a reputation for time-wasting and game management tactics but there is no doubt Ainsworth gets results.

With the likes of Aaron Pierre, Joe Jacobson, Sido Jombati, Paris Cowan-Hall and, of course, now Adebayo Akinfenwa, surely Wycombe have a great chance to go up.

And it is a chance they must take, otherwise they will risk losing Ainsworth and key players – many of whom are out of contract at the end of the season.

Doncaster Rovers

Rovers are managed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s son, Darren.

And Donny fans will have been disappointed at the fact he couldn’t steer them to safety last term.

But they have been given a welcome boost at the recruitment drive shown by their team this summer.

Ross Etheridge and Joe Wright, who were superb for Accrington last season, have arrived.

Meanwhile, Doncaster have signed the likes of John Marquis and Tommy Rowe.

Rowe is an extremely impressive acquisition at this level – and I’m sure the versatile, energetic midfielder will make a big impact for Donny.

With a solid squad going into the new season, don’t expect Rovers to suffer the relegation blues.

Leyton Orient

A key to the potential success of Leyton Orient is whether their owners stick with manager Andy Hessenthaler, who replaced Kevin Nolan last season.

There is undoubted quality in Orient’s squad – the likes of Dean Cox, Alex Cisak and newly-recruited Tom Parkes, who won promotion with Bristol Rovers.

Also crucial to any potential bid for promotion is strength in depth and Orient have this, whereas many of their rivals do not.

The big question remains, will the owners stay patient if a fast start does not materialise.

What is sure is this League Two season will be competitive as ever.

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