Pompey squad strength averts injury crisis
Paul Cook took the unusual step of revealing Pompey's injury crisis before last night's impressive 1-0 victory at AFC Wimbledon.
His reasons for doing so were clear – to assure people he was not trying to be clever with team selection.
Yet out came the conspiracy theorists, with portsmouth.co.uk home to some alternative views.
Key players being rested for fear of being injured ahead of the play-offs, lowering expectations ahead of an expected defeat, or most deviously, weighing up the play-off positions with current top seed Bristol Rovers a more attractive proposition than Plymouth.
The idea Cook would go out to lose a game sounded ludicrous before kick-off last night and was proved exactly that at full-time.
The straight-talking boss was simply doing what he said he was.
And it is great credit to the squad he has built in his time at the club that his side, devoid of eight first-team players, were able to beat a play-off rival who had won their last five games.
Adam Webster, Ryan Fulton, Kyle Bennett, Conor Wilkinson, Conor Chaplin, Jack Whatmough Matt Clarke and Marc McNulty were all sidelined with one problem or another.
Last night, Paul Jones joined the ever-growing list of injured players.
But for the aptly-numbered 911 travelling fans last night, there was no emergency at Kingsmeadow.
Instead, there is now a renewed belief in the squad depth at Cook’s disposal.
Player for player, the Blues have the most talented bunch in the division.
And with the promise of the play-offs to come, that could prove so vital in the coming weeks.
While other side’s hopes may hinge on key individuals, Pompey have a wealth of talent and experience all over the park.
It is a point Danny Hollands made after the game.
That’s the same Danny Hollands who started the season below the now-departed Nigel Atangana and has seen both Adam Barton and Ben Close preferred to him in a central-midfield berth this term.
The spot alongside Michael Doyle is now his to lose but he knows there are able replacements.
The same goes all over the park as the Blues look to deliver on Cook’s promise of promotion this term.
And with quality players set to bolster the boss’ options in an end-of-season shootout who knows what they could achieve with a full-strength side.
– JEFF MARSHMAN