Key duo set to return against Tigers

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Matt Clarke leads Pompey out at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson

Pompey boss believes captaincy can improve Clarke

Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson will be back in the Pompey side for today's clash with Hull.

Lawrence returns to the team, having sat out the past two matches while awaiting his Blues deal to become permanent on January 1.

His 93-day emergency loan spell from Stoke expired before the visit to Leeds.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder also missed the New Year's Day encounter with Watford despite sealing his permanent move.

That was down to the Football League requirement that, once registered, he was only eligible as of January 2.

Meanwhile, Kitson is back after serving a one-match ban for picking up five bookings.

Both will bolster a Pompey side again missing Richard Hughes and Michael Brown as their contract problems rumble on.

Greg Halford is also absent following his sending off against Watford on New Year's Day.

He will serve an automatic three-match ban, although the loanee was scheduled to return to Wolves after today's game.

However, Mick McCarthy has given permission for Halford to remain at Fratton Park for the remainder of the season.

In the meantime, Cotterill again expects his bench to be short of numbers against Hull. But Ricardo Rocha could be set for a return after suffering from a sore hamstring against Watford.

Cotterill said: 'We'll have 14 or 15 players again for the Hull game, maybe.

'That includes Nadir Ciftci, Tom Kilbey and two goalkeepers.

'We had Ricardo Rocha on the bench against Watford, who was the only outfield player who never got on and had a real tight hamstring the other day when he came off against Leeds.

'I didn't want to play him against Watford and lose him for six weeks, so he was on the bench when I probably knew, unless we got absolutely desperate, that I wasn't going to be putting him on.

'We've also got Kilbey on the bench but he's only a young boy. He's had a medial knee ligament and been out for four or five months.

'I just think it's incredibly tough asking him to go out there, playing his Championship debut, live on Sky, but I had no other forward-thinking players on the bench to try to change it against Watford.

'He is not ready for this level of football, though, nowhere near.

'Liam will be available, though, as will Dave Kitson, which will give us a few more options.

'As for Michael Brown and Richard Hughes, I am banking on not selecting them, I don't envisage any change in that situation for today.'

Kanu is likely to make way for Kitson, while Lawrence will come into midfield, with Joel Ward dropping to right-back in Halford's absence.