Cook: Time to lay down marker

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PAUL COOK has called on Pompey to hit the ground running at the start of a fresh era.

The dawn of a new season arrives tomorrow with a 17,000-plus crowd expected at Fratton Park for the League Two curtain-raiser with Dagenham & Redbridge.

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Steve Reid

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Steve Reid

And the Blues boss believes his team have the chance to generate powerful impetus in their bid for promotion.

Cook is expecting an entertaining spectacle against the Daggers, as fans get a first glimpse of his team in competitive action.

Incredibly, Pompey have not won on the opening day since 2006 – a 3-0 Premier League win over Blackburn.

The Scouser knows the weight of expectation is on the club as he aims to get out of the fourth tier at the third attempt. But Cook also feels there is a chance to lay down an early-season marker.

If we can get a ball rolling I think the league could be in for a shock at how fast we can roll.

Paul Cook

He said: ‘The majority of the country will expect Portsmouth to win with our assembled squad and fantastic support.

‘As everyone knows, though, it doesn’t work like that.

‘It’s not all going to be about one game.

‘But if we can win against Dagenham, it won’t half give us the impetus to go on.

‘I think we can go on and on if we start well.

‘If we can do it remains to be seen. We have very difficult opposition.

‘We’re not getting carried away in any shape or form. I’m not a manager like that.

‘But I do think if we can get the ball rolling, I think the league could be in for a shock at how fast we can roll.’

Cook admitted he will be happy to finally put the weeks of pre-season preparation to bed as the hunt for league points begins.

But he confessed he will be going through the wringer tonight in the hours leading up to kick-off.

The 48-year-old is expecting a sleepless night as he plays through the game in his head.

Spirits are bubbling at Pompey’s training ground as the anticipation builds ahead of the clash.

But the manager knows the stakes are high this season, with getting out of the division the stated aim from all around the club.

He said: ‘I can’t wait.

‘I’ll go home tonight and worry about everything.

‘We have good players here, really good players, and I want to hurt Dagenham.

‘We will hurt Dagenham on Saturday, but they’ve also got the capability to hurt us.

‘I think it will be an attractive game and we’re in for a good encounter. Whether it transpires like that, we’ll see, but I think it will be good.

‘I won’t sleep. I’ll want to play the game.

‘I’ll be down at Fratton Park at 10am tomorrow morning.

‘I’ll be moaning at the groundsman if the grass is too long!

‘I’ll just be getting agitated. It’s the same as every game.

‘We have a massive, massive part to play in what goes on in Portsmouth life. You should never neglect that duty.’

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