Appy: We’re at breaking point

Manager Michael Appleton during yesterday's press conference   Picture: Robin Jones
Manager Michael Appleton during yesterday's press conference Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton fears Pompey will not be able to fulfil their fixture at Barnsley tomorrow as an injury crisis rips through his side.

The Blues boss believes there is a grave danger he will not be able to put out a team at Oakwell, as he is left with just nine fit senior outfield players.

The full extent of Appleton’s woes today became clear as his plight descends into the realms of farce.

That was evident as it was revealed the club cannot afford to pay £400 for a scan for injured captain Liam Lawrence.

And groundsmen at the club’s Eastleigh training ground yesterday couldn’t prepare the pitches, after the locks were changed on storage containers by suppliers who have not been paid.

Television screens at the training base were also left blank after Sky cut off their service.

Now Appleton is battling crippling injury worries which have raised the question whether he can field 11 men at Barnsley.

Kelvin Etuhu (hamstring), Liam Lawrence (calf), David Norris (hernia) and Luke Varney (knee) are all out, with major doubts over Ricardo Rocha (calf), Greg Halford (knee) and Joel Ward (hip).

Of the players who are available, Tal Ben Haim has been playing with the aid of injections for a thigh problem, while Jamie Ashdown (knee), Aaron Mokoena (hamstring) and Kanu (back) have just returned to the fray.

Appleton pulled no punches about the extent of the problems.

He said: ‘Who knows (if the game will not take place), quite possibly.

‘The Football League will ask for medical evidence, which we will try to give them, of the injuries – even though we can’t afford a scan.

‘The doctor will be able to give them a diagnosis of the injuries.

‘There are four definitely out. That leaves us with 14 including two keepers. Of them, there are three who are 50-50 at best.

‘I’m not great at maths but that would then leave us with nine outfield players if they didn’t make it. If we had a squad which was competitive I wouldn’t risk these players. I would look at the bigger picture – because we still have 15 games left. That’s what I’m saying in a nutshell.

‘If they play it will be because I have no choice. My problem then is if they get injured can I fulfil the fixture next week? No.’

Appleton has spoken out about the need for intervention from the Football League over Pompey’s plight.

He feels the club’s problems now raise serious questions over the integrity of the Championship as a competition.

The Pompey boss is keen to make the severity of his team’s problems clear to the League.

Appleton said: ‘I understand the Football League view is that they have to look at different cases and different scenarios.

‘If they said we have 17 players and two injuries, then fine – we can fulfil the expectations of what they and other teams in the league would expect.

‘The problem is, we have four who can’t play and three players who, if we do play them, are playing with a big risk.

‘If it means missing a month to play in the game, it doesn’t then become a fact of whether they can play to be competitive, it becomes a case of whether we can actually get 11 players out.

‘It then becomes a farce.’