KENNY JACKETT admitted Pompey are short of being a top-six outfit.
And the Blues boss has laid down the challenge of improving things at both ends of the pitch to compete with League One’s best sides.
Jackett’s men go to Charlton today aiming to beat one of the sides sitting above them in the table for the first time this season.
Pompey are handily placed in eighth position going into the game, but the 55-year-old has detected a gulf between his men and the other teams chasing promotion.
Jackett said: ‘We’re struggling with the top sides.
‘I think sometimes on the day, though, the top sides – whether in our fixtures or not – do stand out one way or another.
‘If you’re looking at Wigan and Blackburn they are very good teams.
‘The one that’s surprised everyone is Shrewsbury. They’ve been a very good side so far.
‘Their goals against column is low. Very, very low.
‘So that gives them a chance of earning points in every game.
‘If you look across the division the good sides stand out.
‘Those around the top six, when you see them play, look dominant.
‘It’s a close division, you can win or lose against anybody, but when you see the good teams they look exactly what they are.
‘Scunthorpe are a good example of keeping things tight and being very hard to beat.
‘They’re hard to get on top of and are consistently there every game. Over a two-year period they’ve been in the top six all the way.
‘We have been tight and competitive in many of our games.
‘Have we quite had that edge sometimes? Maybe not.
‘Those sides in the play-offs, they look strong. A lot of the time they look set apart from the rest of the division.’
The Blues find themselves short of the sides above them when it comes to goals scored, while only Peterborough have conceded more.
It’s far from an insurmountable gap to bridge on both fronts, however.
‘We’ve been saying where we need to improve,’ added Jackett.
‘Our goals conceded, 24 out of 20, isn’t a bad stat – but the best is 12. That’s where it is.
‘My personal one to the players is to get a defensive record of one or under a goal a game, that’s a good base to go from.
‘Then, at the other end, it’s how to support Pitman’s goals.
‘That’s the front four players, central midfielders and the big lads at the back from set-pieces.
‘It’s different permutations, looking at different people and giving different people opportunities.
‘That’s not just in goalscoring but the service positions where you can create.
‘We have to work at those things to get those two columns as competitive as possible with the best in the division.’