Alan Knight: Pressure is off and Portsmouth can enjoy Checkatrade Trophy occasion against Sunderland ahead of League One promotion run-in

Pompey’s Checkatrade Trophy final against Sunderland provides the chance to briefly take the focus off the race to reach Championship.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 2:36 pm
Pompey celebrate the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final win over Bury. Picture by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com/PinPep)

It’s an occasion in which the players can express themselves in a Wembley showpiece.

The competition provides the lads the chance to go out and enjoy it.

Obviously, both teams will be determined to win, but there are bigger things to focus on once this game is out of the way.

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That does not take away from what a great day out it’s going to be – and it takes the attention off everything that is going on in the league.

The real pressure from that is going to come moving forward.

It could also provide a big boost psychologically going into the final games.

You want to keep that momentum going.

Pompey celebrate the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final win over Bury. Picture by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com/PinPep)

If promotion does come via the play-offs, it gives you an insight into the pressures of playing at Wembley in front of a full house.

It would help going into another Wembley final, should that be the way things work out to get to where we want to go.

The occasion is going to be a great one.

All of the politics around the Checkatrade Trophy can be forgotten when it gets to this point.

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As an ex-professional footballer, there is nothing better than the opportunity they will get.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to play at Wembley, but that’s what you want to do.

You want to play at Wembley. It’s an iconic stadium, even more so with the rebuild.

I’m jealous of the boys.

It’s going to be a great day for the club and for the supporters.

There’s going to be a lot of youngsters, people taking their families.

A full house is what everyone is thinking it will be, which is great for both clubs.

It shows the following that they both have.

There is also the added fact they could meet again in the play-off final.

But the atmosphere around that would be a lot different to what it will be on Sunday.

It’s going to be a competitive game which both teams will want to win.

Although people will understand what I mean by the different pressure for a play-off final and in the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley.

I know Sunderland have tried to play the card of having experience in big matches.

All I can say from playing those sort of games, it’s about the team that doesn’t freeze on the day.

We’ve got the knowledge that we’ve already beaten them this season at home.

We know they’re a good side and the respect will be given to them that they deserve.

But I’m backing Pompey to win it on penalties, partly because of what happened to me in the semi-final.

I’ve got to go with that one, I think it will be a tight affair.

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