Pompey v Northampton: pre-match talking points

Will Rooney looks at the talking points ahead of Pompey's clash against Northampton in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Friday, 1st December 2017, 6:30 pm
Kyle Bennett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Can fringe players impress again?

Despite fans regarding it as a much-maligned competition, Pompey’s players on the fringes of the starting line-up will no doubt view the Checkatrade Trophy clash against Northampton differently.

The Blues’ last game in the tournament was a 1-0 victory against Charlton Athletic last month.

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Danny Rose, Gareth Evans and Kal Naismith were all on the periphery of things prior to the trip to The Valley.

However, all three impressed Kenny Jackett and have now started each of Pompey’s past four games.

Rose has kept Stuart O’Keefe out of the side, while the versatile Evans has started ahead of both Nathan Thompson and Matty Kennedy.

And Naismith is blossoming into the same player who was a driving force behind the Blues’ League Two title success last season, after netting the winner against Plymouth.

Jackett is unlikely to make drastic changes – especially given the current injury situation – but it’s likely a few players will get a chance to stake their claim.

For the likes of O’Keefe, Kennedy and Kyle Bennett, who have found themselves demoted to a place on the bench in recent weeks, they can once display their credentials for a starting berth.

Bennett, in particular, has failed to exhibit all of the ability he possesses.

On his day, there aren’t many in Jackett’s squad better and more naturally gifted than the former Doncaster forward.

However, he’s yet to get off the mark or provide an assist this term and has seen the likes of Naismith, Evans and Chaplin leapfrog him in the pecking order.

Jackett wants a Wembley appearance and so will the players

Like it or not, Kenny Jackett wants to go as far as possible in the Checkatrade Trophy.

It’s the first piece his silverware he won as a manager at Swansea – when it was the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – and the Pompey boss clearly has a soft spot for the competition.

Whether it’s the FA Cup final, an England international or the Checkatrade Trophy, all footballers want to experience the thrill of playing at Wembley.

If the Blues get past Northampton, they’re then just three victories from a final at the national stadium.

Granted, it’s far too early to think about Wembley, but Jackett’s troops may not get another chance than via the Checkatrade Trophy.

No fresh injuries will be key

Despite Pompey almost having a clean bill of health a couple of weeks ago, the treatment room has started to fill up again recently.

Brett Pitman, Kal Naismith, Oli Hawkins and Dion Donohue all miss the tie against the Cobblers, although they should be available for the trip to Charlton on December 9.

Meanwhile, Milan Lalkovic, Jack Whatmough and Damien McCrory all remain sidelined.

The Christmas period is looming and every manager’s worst nightmare is having a depleted squad for the hectic schedule.

Any fresh injuries from the game will be Kenny Jackett’s worst fear ahead of a run of six games in 23 days, starting at Charlton next weekend.