Senior players return for Portsmouth

Lee Chandler    Picture: Allan Hutchings

Lee Chandler Picture: Allan Hutchings

Liam Williams sets off from his own 22 to lay on Sean O'Brien's try during the first test of the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland

Former Lions forward insists it’s time to get physical

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Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler remains optimistic despite having to reshuffle his backs for the visit to KCS Old Boys in London two south west.

The relegation battlers are without the unavailable Dan Neville, Dan Gates, Dave Jones and Adam Long.

Gareth Richards returns from injury at outside-half, Tom Cantwell moves into the centre and Danny Harris comes in at full-back.

There is better news in the forwards where the impressive front five stays the same. The pack is boosted by the reappearance of Will Brock in the back-row.

Brock makes his first senior appearance since breaking his leg nearly a year ago and his return is a massive plus for the visitors.

The hosts, despite lying fifth in the league, have lost their last four league games and Portsmouth will be hoping to add to their misery.

‘We have played well in our last few games and it will be good to come away from KCS with something,’ said Chandler.

‘Having Will Brock is a huge filip for us because of his experience and good rugby brain.

‘He is also a good communicator and will give us that added bit of leadership on the pitch.

‘We know how KCS play and that means our wide defence will have to be good.

‘With our front five going well at the moment though, we should win enough ball to put some pressure on them.

‘KCS are in a poor run of form and I don’t see why we can’t go up there and come away with something.’

The city club’s survival chances have also been boosted by the imminent return of Luke Richards and Lee Chandler, who both reappear in the second team this weekend after suffering career-threatening injuries.

Richards (shoulder reconstruction) and Chandler (broken leg and dislocated ankle) have not played for 18 months.

In Hampshire one Fareham Heathens journey to bottom club Romsey looking to return to winning ways after going down at title-chasing Bognor in their last outing.

Petersfield return to league action for the first time since before Christmas with a trip to the Isle of Wight.

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