JOE GALLEN has told Pompey’s fringe players to stake a first-team claim against Gillingham.
The Blues host Steve Lovell’s side in the much-maligned Checkatrade Trophy tonight (7.45pm).
Kenny Jackett is set to make several changes from the team that beat Plymouth on Saturday.
The likes of Luke McGee, Brandon Haunstrup, Danny Rose and David Wheeler are expected to be involved, while there could be debuts for new-boys Andre Green and Joe Mason.
Pompey have been unchanged for their past four League One fixtures, delivering three victories and a draw.
With those on the periphery getting an opportunity to impress against the Gills, Gallen stressed they must grab it with both hands and make a statement to boss Jackett.
The Blues’ assistant manager said: ‘I don’t think you’d say to the lads who are going to be playing that it is a much-maligned trophy.
‘They’ll be thinking it's a good opportunity to get out at Fratton Park to play and impress the manager.
‘With the amount of wins we’ve been tallying up it’s been very tough for the manager to change the team. We have some very good players who are currently on the bench and some really good players not getting on the bench, which shows the strength of the squad.
‘It’s going to be an important game for those players and it is going to be interesting for us to observe them.
‘They’ll be looking to put in a good performance and nudge the manager telling him I’m here and available for selection.
‘Bookings are tallying up for certain players and there will be some suspensions as we go.
‘As we saw on Saturday, three players came off basically at the same time and three had to be ready.There are going to be opportunities as we go on and those lads have to be fit and ready.’
Pompey Reserves are also in action at Plymouth in the Premier League Cup tonight.
Dion Donhue is the only first-team player set to feature as he continues his rehab for a groin injury.
But a sickness bug could restrict the Welsh talent’s involvement.
‘Dion didn’t come in yesterday as he was a bit ill so we’ll see how he is,’ added Gallen.
‘There’s been a bug going round and a few people have missed a few days training – I think he’s picked that up.
‘Hopefully he does go down to Plymouth because we need to get him playing.
‘He’ll be the only recognisable name there.’