Knight: Pompey selection dilemma for Cook

Pompey goalkeeper Paul Jones Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey goalkeeper Paul Jones Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close battles for possession against Southend.

O'Keefe impressed with Pompey rival

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Paul Cook faces a bit of a conundrum in his team selection for tonight’s visit of Derby.

Everyone likes a nice cup run and it would be great to maintain momentum from Saturday’s performance against Dagenham & Redbridge.

However, you have to take into consideration whether you want to risk certain players when the league is really our priority – and that is the difficulty for the manager.

As a player, I would want to appear in every game, but as a supporter I wanted us to be promoted from League Two more than anything. It is a dilemma which will split people, no doubt.

The reality is we do not possess the biggest squad in the world and, no disrespect, one or two players may not want to risk playing tonight at this time in their careers.

That’s the beauty of managing a squad, while there are players who can come in and show what they are about having been sidelined by injury.

I would probably leave out maybe four in the interests of rotation, which seems to be the thing that happens in these cup games.

Cook certainly made a big call on Saturday, with Brian Murphy coming in for Paul Jones – that caught me by surprise.

Then you had Murphy caught in traffic while attempting to get to the game – and when he did get out on the pitch didn’t have a great deal to do!

The manager has made his decision and said Jones will get game time and play, so we will see how that unfolds.

You could say he had become a bit complacent by playing week in, week out last season when every player needs competition.

Certainly, it was often joked about me that my name was already printed on the team sheet when the manager came to decide.

In this case the manager is creating that competition to keep Jones on his toes.

Although Murphy had nothing to do in the 3-0 victory, I was disappointed with his kicking, which I believe is normally his strength.

The other thing to consider is how well a player maintains his concentration levels in a match when he is not being busy. You never know when the opposition may test him.

Still, this is a great opportunity for Murphy, but I also feel a bit for Jones and I’m sure he will react in the right way and try to win back his place.

I know Jones has had his critics when beaten from distance a few times, but I actually felt coming for crosses and dealing with corners he was very good.