On this day: International break rejuvenates key Portsmouth players

Sylvain Distin and Sol Campbell.
Sylvain Distin and Sol Campbell.

On this day in 2008, Pompey boss Harry Redknapp believed the international break had rejuvenated members of his flagging squad.

Redknapp reckoned the break from Premier League action could not have come at a better time for some of the older legs in his side.

The Blues manager was concerned about the impact an intense fixture calendar was having on senior members.

But he felt the likes of Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin would face Aston Villa fresher and better prepared from last weekend off.

The World Cup qualifiers presented Redknapp with the familiar problem of a host of his squad being taken from him.

That had made preparations for the meeting with Martin O’Neill’s team more difficult, with the day previously being the only time the full squad worked together after international duty.

Redknapp may have been hit with midfield injury problems, but the two-week break allowed the likes of John Utaka, Lauren and Niko Kranjcar to move closer to full fitness.

With four games in nine days following the Villa meeting, Redknapp thought Pompey were going to need as many players fit and in peak condition as possible.

He said he still had underlying concerns about the ability of his squad to stand up to a frenetic period of fixtures, however.

‘I’ve been quite thankful of the fortnight’s break, really,’ said Redknapp.

‘We have had quite a few people out injured so I’ve been glad of the rest to get some of them back.

‘We had nine out at one stage and I can see three or four of them coming back now.

‘There are one or two knocks in midfield but I can see the squad being thickened up. That is what we need.

‘We are not equipped to have a run in a cup, a run in Europe and then have the league on top of that. We haven’t got the squad.

‘When we get a few injuries we are going to suffer badly in the league.

So when I get the opportunity I have to rest one or two players.’

Pompey’s immediate injury concerns centre around their midfield options.

Richard Hughes, Lassana Diarra and Younes Kaboul, who has been deployed in the middle of the park, are all carrying knocks.

Redknapp believed that exposed an area of the team where he felt lacked depth after selling Pedro Mendes to Rangers in August.

He said: ‘Midfield is an area which has worried me for a while.

‘I always thought if I did sell Pedro and we picked up some injuries it might just leave us short.

‘It has turned out that way when we’ve picked up a knock or two.’