'˜Pompey have the players to cruise the division'

BEN DAVIES is no longer around to help fire up Pompey's promotion aspirations.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:46 pm
Ben Davies. Picture: Joe Pepler

But he has emphatically backed Paul Cook’s side to this season finally clamber out of League Two.

Grimsby entertain the Blues on Saturday, although summer recruit Davies is struggling to return in time following a calf problem.

The popular right-back was last term a key member of the Pompey side which finished sixth in the table and subsequently reached the play-offs.

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That was ended by Home Park heartbreak – and soon Davies was on his way.

Yet he remains in touch with many at Fratton Park and continues to watch from afar with interest.

And he is adamant Cook’s team possesses the quality to at last win promotion from the bottom division.

He said: ‘Without a doubt, Pompey are the best team individually in the league, by a country mile.

‘They are full of experience at the level above and need a bit of consistency, but when they get it right are the best team in the league.

‘I don’t think Plymouth are as strong as last year and if Pompey can get a good run together after Christmas then they will have a good chance.

‘Individually they have the players to be good enough in the league above, let alone League Two.

‘Grimsby have still to play Pompey, Doncaster and Accrington, then we will have played every team, so I haven’t really seen Paul Cook’s side this season.

‘But they are strong enough.

‘We could have easily gone up last year, we had some really bad luck, getting bad injuries at key times.

‘There was the goalkeeping situation in the play-offs, Gary Roberts having spells out with injury, then in the second leg Gaz Evans and Danny Hollands going off with bad injuries.

‘If the gaffer had a full squad to pick from we would have gone up.

‘I have no doubt if we had beaten Plymouth we would have won the play-off final as well.

‘I have not been there this season so don’t know morale and how the squad is, but they certainly have the players to cruise the division, although it’s never as easy as that.

‘Last year I felt we were a couple of tweaks away from going up – and maybe should have with the people there.’

The Mariners have won one of their last eight games, although noticeably recently won at Plymouth.

And Davies believes that inconsistency is prevalent in all clubs at this level.

He added: ‘This is the year to get promoted, I don’t think the league is as strong as it has been.

‘Last year we were scratching our heads over how we could win one week and struggle the next, but it has also been a bit like that at Grimsby this season.

‘We won 3-0 at Plymouth last month and, from what I saw, they are nowhere near one of the best teams we have played.

‘Whereas we faced teams earlier in the season and thought “They are strong, they are going to be good” and they have fallen away.

‘It’s a consistency thing with every team in the division, not just Pompey.’