Pompey v Scunthorpe: pre-match talking points
Will Rooney breaks down the talking points ahead of Pompey's clash against Scunthorpe at Fratton Park on Saturday
A CHANCE FOR DION IN HIS FAVOURED ROLE?
Injuries have been one of the biggest frustrations of Pompey’s season so far.
There’s rarely been a time when the treatment room hasn’t been filled with bodies the Blues can’t really afford to be without.
Ben Close and Nathan Thompson are the latest players to pick up problems, with both limping out of Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Chelsea under-21s.
The pair have a 50/50 chance of making today’s game.
If both fail late fitness tests, it will mean Kenny Jackett has just 15 senior players at his disposal.
If Close is unavailable, that leaves Adam May as the sole Blues central midfielder due to Danny Rose’s season-ending broken leg and Stuart O’Keefe’s ongoing groin complaint.
First-year pro Theo Widdrington also missed training this week with suspected tonsillitis.
As a result, Jackett could therefore hand Dion Donohue a chance to impress in his favoured role.
Although he’s been utilised as a left-back when he’s featured, it’s the middle of the park where the Welshman relishes playing and believes is his best position.
Donohue has delivered three impressive performances since coming back into the team on the left-hand side of defence in the absence of Brandon Haunstrup.
The former Chesterfield talent been working on improving the defensive aspect of his game by putting in extra hours in training and that would bode well for him in the holding midfield role if required.
Meanwhile, Scunthorpe are a well-organised, disciplined side who, based on the reverse fixture at Glanford Park, are tough to break down.
Donohue has attacking qualities that could also help unlock the Iron’s defence.
If the 24-year-old were to take up a berth in the engine room, it would also likely prompt Sylvain Deslandes to make his Pompey debut at left-back.
STATEMENT TO PLAY-OFF RIVALS
Pompey are still in the play-offs – but have their rivals breathing down their necks.
Just one point separates them and seventh and eight-placed Rotherham and Charlton respectively, with Peterborough and Oxford both not far behind either.
The Blues have a target on their back, with teams waiting in the wings ready to pounce if Jackett’s troops slip-up.
Yet a victory against Scunthorpe would be a real statement they’re not willing to lose their top-six spot and have every intention of retaining their place.
The Iron’s record on the road has been highly impressive this campaign, having lost just three times from 13 matches.
Nevertheless, a victory over Graham Alexander’s outfit, whether it’s comprehensive or gritty, would convey Pompey won’t easily be budged.
Pompey’s recent home form has been the key to their rise into the play-offs this season.
Fratton Park is once again a stronghold the visiting opposition have significant trouble ransacking.
It’s been the best part of two-and-a-half months since the Blues suffered a defeat on their own patch.
Granted, this is Pompey’s most difficult fixture since that 1-0 loss to Bradford, but Scunthorpe will surely have to be at the pinnacle of their game to return to Glanford Park with a result.
CAPPING OFF A NEW DEAL
Jamal Lowe toasted a new Fratton Park deal on Thursday.
The former Hampton & Richmond winger’s progress at Pompey in just a year has been astronomical and he’s become one of Jackett’s chief protagonists in League One.
Lowe’s performances this term highlight his improvements and how his confidence has blossomed.
An impressive display against Scunthorpe would be the perfect way to cap off a new Pompey deal.
It’s been 23 games since Lowe was on the scoresheet, a figure he must improve to really become a force to be reckoned with.
Yet, a new deal shows the faith,which could inject confidence in front of goal into him.
Lowe may have to fill-in at right-back if Thompson is deemed unavailable with an ankle injury.
Nevertheless, that’s a credit to how much Lowe’s overall game has improved, with his defensive capabilities and overall positional awareness also developing.