Cotts to look at his options over campaign finale

Steve Cotterill issues instructions to his players during the Coventry game
Steve Cotterill issues instructions to his players during the Coventry game
Dave Wright. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Steve Cotterill is already planning for the future off the pitch.

And he intends to look ahead on it as well, by weighing up all his tactical options over the final four games of the season.

Cotterill experimented by going with a midfield diamond formation last week against Coventry, with striker Dave Kitson at its point.

The move failed to sparkle as Pompey slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Fratton Park.

But Cotterill will continue to look at everything available to him as he aims to arm himself with information moving forward.

That means various permutations, in terms of formation and personnel, will be utilised over the remaining three weeks of the season.

Cotterill has already requested permission to plan ahead in terms of bringing in bodies for next season.

He will also be looking to learn a thing or two about what he can do with his players in the final throes of a tumultuous campaign.

Cotterill said: ‘We looked at something different last week against Coventry.

‘One thing is for sure – we can’t play a diamond with the players we’ve got at the moment.

‘Having said that, we got in on numerous occasions against Coventry.

‘Maybe if those went in we would have thought it wasn’t too bad.

‘When you have Wardy (Joel Ward) and Hoggy (Jonathan Hogg) in there you have no-one who can break that left-hand side.

‘Wardy broke the right a bit but it’s not natural for Hoggy to break left.

‘Kitson was at the point with Hayden (Mullins) sitting.

‘My only change could have been to put Hoggy at the base and Hayden on the left of it.

‘That was the only change, but I needed to look at it at some stage.

‘There was no problem looking at it when they had it.

‘You don’t want to do that against a team playing 4-4-2, with real whippy wingers out wide and can open you up with overlapping full-backs.

‘I felt that was my only opportunity to have a look other than against, maybe, Norwich.

‘But I wanted to have a look sooner rather than later.

‘And everyone will definitely be used between now and the end of the season.’

With Pompey having the smallest squad in the Football League, the lack of numbers has been a recurring theme of the campaign.

Cotterill believes that certainly had an impact on the diamond experiment last week.

He said: ‘I was one player short when starting it up, really.

‘That has happened all season, though.

‘The lads would have learned from it.

‘Saying it didn’t work, it may have been different if I had Liam (Lawrence) from the start in that mix. He could have played the left and broke out.

‘But whatever we do this season we’ve always been one short.

‘Even when we had John Utaka, who could play the left, we had no-one who could play the right.

‘There’s areas we’ve been short in all season and we have to learn from that.’

Cotterill has called for one last push from his weary men after their weekend defeat at Cardiff.

He is, however, gladdened by the fact there are two matches against high-flying opposition to come at Fratton Park.

Cotterill said: ‘We have a real big run of games left.

‘I’m glad we’ve got what I would regard as two real big games at home. I’m pleased with that.

‘If things don’t go right when your are at home against the teams at the bottom it can become more tense.

‘They are still in a fight and need the points.

‘But when we play against Swansea and Norwich the pressure won’t be on us – it will be on them.’

‘We still have those big games left and we can enjoy it.’