Appy planning changes for Tigers

Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Former Pompey manager Alan Ball

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Michael Appleton is planning a Pompey shake-up ahead of the do-or-die clash against Hull.

The Blues manager has told his team there will be changes to the starting 11 going into the must-win meeting at Fratton Park tonight.

Appleton was fuming with his side’s display as they went down to a 2-0 loss at Coventry.

It was an opportunity missed at the Ricoh Arena as his team passed up the chance to haul in their relegation rivals.

Pompey are now six points from safety but tonight have the opportunity to reel in Bristol City and the Sky Blues as they play their game in hand against the Tigers.

Appleton kept the same starting line-up for the third game on the bounce at the Ricoh Arena after the 4-1 thrashing of Birmingham.

Pompey were lacklustre, however, and Appleton admitted afterwards too many players were off the pace.

So he is now vowing to ring the changes against a Hull side pushing for a play-off spot.

Kelvin Etuhu is pressing hard for a starting spot after a couple of substitute appearances since recovering from his hamstring injury.

Marko Futacs has also been left out of the 11 for the past three games after a long period of starts since making his breakthrough.

He is likely to come into Appleton’s thinking while new loan duo Luca Scapuzzi and Karim Rekik are both keen to get football under their belts after arriving from Manchester City.

Appleton told his men in no uncertain terms changes will be made after the Coventry game.

He said: ‘I said to the players after the game on Saturday that maybe it’s time we freshened things up a bit.

‘We may need to get different personalities on the field from the start and see where we go.

‘It helps we’ll be at home. We’ll be having a think about what threats Hull can do to us and what we can do to them.

‘We’ll have a look back over Saturday’s game and bear in mind the opposition tonight.

‘We’ll then pick a team which can turn up for that game on our patch.’

Appleton insisted he has no qualms about throwing in either of his new recruits tonight.

Scapuzzi was given seven minutes off the bench on Saturday while Rekik was an unused sub.

Appleton has shown he is ready to give youth a chance in his time at the club.

He has no reservations about doing that with either player despite their relative inexperience.

Appleton feels the freedom they play with could be invaluable to Pompey over the final eight games.

He said: ‘Luca’s a talent and he knows where the back of the net is. He’s a player who can play right across the front three.

‘He is a clever player. I’m not worried about him physically.

‘You only have to look at someone like Scott Allan and Maguire. They are small.

‘When you don’t have the frame of some players you work even harder to make sure you are not in the situations where you have to make contact with people. You tend to use your brain more.

‘He’ll give us legs. He’ll obviously give us that youthfulness as well.

‘Karim is going to be a first-team player for Manchester City at some point.

‘He’s only 17 but an international for Holland and he’s the captain.

‘He has a fantastic physique. He’s athletic and strong and also a good footballer, as most Dutchmen are.

‘He will give some balance on the left side as and when we need him.

‘It’s going to be important playing with no fear with eight games to go like he does.

‘With the pressures that go with it, we need as many players playing with no fear as possible.

‘We want players playing with freedom and not within themselves.’