Pompey boss lays down end-of-season demands
KENNY JACKETT has outlined his demands for the final two games of the season.
And the Pompey boss is weighing up how best to up the energy levels of his side as they go to Bury tomorrow.
The trip to Gigg Lane effectively looks a dead rubber, with the play-offs hopes of Jackett’s side all but dead and the Shakers already relegated to League Two.
However, the Blues manager is looking for professionalism from his players over the final eight days of the League One season.
He wants a maximum return in case a miraculous sequence of results does see the 69 points Pompey can return be enough to make the play-offs.
Jackett also has one eye on sending out the right message for next season and not tailing off in disappointing fashion.
The 56-year-old feels the tempo of his team has undoubtedly dropped in the two defeats which has killed their top-six hopes.
So introducing players like Conor Chaplin or Matty Kennedy, who’ve found their playing time restricted of late, could be another option.
Jackett said: ‘To be fair right now, I just want to beat Bury.
‘If we can beat Bury and Peterborough, we’ll see.
‘That would be a very low points total in terms of making the top six, but you never know what could happen.
‘That’s number one, and for number two we want to finish strongly for next season.
‘If it comes about that one or two fringe players can bring us some energy that we haven’t had lately, that would be great.
‘We’ve had the boys come off injured last weekend, but it will basically be the same group of lads.
‘I don’t think it will be wholesale changes, because I don’t think there is that number of players here.
‘There may be one or two (changes), we’ll see.
‘But, overall, we are looking at putting out the side which is hungry enough to beat Bury and beat Peterborough.
‘That, we believe, will set the tone for next year.’
It looks likely to be a top-10 finish for Pompey this season, which most observers would suggest is a fair reflection of how the team has performed.
The challenge now for the Blues is to bridge the gap to the top six next term.
Jackett added: ‘We have to aspire to get the edge these sides just have over us at the moment.
‘The edge those sides have got over us, which you can see sometimes, is where we need to get to if we are to be a Championship team – which is our aim.
‘Even though we’ve had some poor runs, other sides have had troubles as well.
‘Whatever spells we’ve had this season, we’ve always been close and in touching distance. I don’t think we’ve been too far out of it.
‘And, similarly, it looks as if we’re going to finish on the fringes of the play-offs.
‘That’s where we’ve been for most of the season.
‘We’ve just flirted with being one of the best sides in the league – without being quite convincing.’