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Blues boss Steve Cotterill has urged his battle-weary troops into one last effort to earn their deserved break.

Pompey travel to Leicester next weekend before a fortnight’s respite because of the international fixtures.

It’s been a frantic run of games for the Blues as they face their eighth match in four weeks tomorrow when they host Middlesbrough.

And Cotterill admits his players need a breather, especially with one eye already on a hectic April schedule.

He said: ‘I think if you were to ask most Championship managers and Championship teams at the minute, they would be pleased for the break at this moment in time – even if they have the bigger squads.

‘With our squad, we will be looking forward to the break.

‘Maybe, with two games to go, it may start coming into their minds a little bit to give this a big effort.

‘I think most players who have played in the Championship this season deserve a break.

‘We will have a two-week break and then absolute madness in April, which I don’t think is quite right.’

While Cotterill’s side will be looking to respond after suffering their first defeat in eight games at Bristol City, the manager would gladly take the same kind of performance from the one his side produced at Ashton Gate.

He said: ‘The performance was excellent the other night. That’s as good as we’ve been.

‘So we’re looking forward to this game and I will settle for the same performance again.

‘Those kinds of performances week in, week out will give us points whoever we play and that’s not being disrespectful to Middlesbrough.’