Pearce: This game tops the lot

Jason Pearce and Stephen Henderson celebrate the victory over Coventry
Jason Pearce and Stephen Henderson celebrate the victory over Coventry
Nathan Thompson played in midfield for last Saturdays visit of Scunthorpe

Thompson: Pompey players have ability to adapt

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Jason Pearce is gearing up for the biggest game of his career.

The all-action defender has no doubt where Sunday’s showdown with Southampton stands in terms of the matches he has appeared in.

Walking out in Pompey blue against their deadly rivals at Fratton Park is at the top of games Pearce has featured in. Right at the very top.

After coming through the ranks at the club, the 24-year-old knows the significance of this weekend’s derby.

It’s the kind of occasion the powerhouse has spent his life working towards.

‘It’s a massive, massive game,’ said the fired-up fans’ favourite.

‘Obviously, I used to go and watch it as a youngster when I was first at the club.

‘The atmosphere is just unbelievable – there’s nothing quite like it.

‘To be part of it will be brilliant. I can’t wait. I’ll be delighted to be a part of it.

‘I’ve worked really hard to get where I am now. So to be involved in a game like that, if I’m lucky enough to be picked, will mean everything.

‘It’s going to be the best day of my career so far. I can’t wait.’

A look at the Championship table tells Pearce all he needs to know about the size of the task Michael Appleton’s men face against the side from along the M27.

Southampton sit three points clear of second-placed West Ham at present, while Pompey currently lie in 16th place.

Appleton’s side have picked up two wins on the bounce, however, while their opponents have lost to struggling Doncaster and needed an injury-time equaliser to salvage a point at home to Blackpool last time out.

That gives the Blues impetus going into the game but Pearce knows the form book will be ripped up this Sunday at 1pm.

He called on his team-mates to keep cool heads in the heat of battle, with important league points also at stake.

Pearce said: ‘The form is going to go out of the window. It’s just a one-off game and we are going to be ready for them.

‘Hopefully, all the boys are going to be on it. We have to win all of our personal battles. If we do that we are going to end up getting three points.

‘It’s great when they lose because they are our rivals! We have to concentrate, though. We have to get our performances right first and foremost, and we have to start moving up the league.

‘That’s why the game is a big one on Sunday, as well as it being a derby.’

Before joining Bournemouth in 2007, Pearce had an insight into the nature of the rivalry with Southampton.

He knows the two clashes with their rivals were the first the Fratton faithful looked for when the fixtures were released in the summer.

And a win will undoubtedly be a defining moment in the campaign for Pompey followers.

It could also be used as a catalyst for Appleton’s team to power themselves up the table.

He said: ‘It means everything to all of the Pompey fans. We know that.

‘I’ve been around for a while at this club. This one game can determine the whole season really for them. It could be a big boost for the team as well.

‘The one thing I know, though, is the supporters will be delighted if we can turn them over.’