Will Rooney looks ahead to Pompey’s game against MK Dons tomorrow and assesses the key talking points.
OPPORTUNITY TO RECORD MAIDEN BACK-TO-BACK LEAGUE WINS
It is something Pompey have craved all season, but their efforts have failed to bear fruits.
We’re already over a quarter of the way through the season, yet the Blues have failed to pick up back-to-back league wins.
Cast-iron consistency is a department Kenny Jackett’s men have distinctly lacked.
Not ideal, considering they sit in 13th spot when the Pompey boss harbours ambitions of a play-off spot.
There have been some impressive performances from the Blues so far. Wins against Fleetwood and Bristol Rovers portray the potential and capabilities of this side against well-established League One clubs.
But then there have also been starkly contrasting efforts in home defeats against Oldham and Rotherham, which have left the Fratton faithful scratching their heads.
Luckily for Pompey, the majority of sides in the third tier have also not managed to hit a real patch of form.
Just three points separates them and sixth-placed Charlton, who have lost four of their past five games.
The Blues have been stuttering from game-to-game, taking two steps forward and one step back.
Yet a win against MK Dons would be a real morale booster in the Fratton Park camp and a relief to finally record successive league wins.
Once that monkey is off their back, it could well be the catalyst they need to spark a real run of form.
JACKETT’S STRIKER DECISION
Christian Burgess’ return at centre-back will be relished by all now he’s back to full fitness.
On the verge of his 100th game at the club, the former Peterborough man can continue his sterling partnership with Matt Clarke in central defence.
Oli Hawkins was used as a makeshift centre-back for Sunday’s trip to Gillingham.
Purchased for an undisclosed fee from Dagenham & Redbridge in the summer, the 25-year-old deserved all of the plaudits he received for a solid performance.
But Hawkins’ role at centre-half isn’t going to be perennial.
He’s a striker who possesses goalscoring quality in the final third, as he displayed in the non-league scene bagging 18 goals for the Daggers.
Yet Hawkins has to take back his spot spearheading Pompey’s attack from Curtis Main.
The former Doncaster man has spent the majority of his Fratton Park career on the periphery through a combination of injuries and being out of favour.
However, Main has displayed his professionalism and commitment while on the fringes.
He was determined to take his chance against Gillingham and that he did.
Main’s work-rate and pressing could not be faulted and if his header that led to Matty Kennedy’s goal went in, he well could be starting his second successive game against MK Dons.
Hawkins was Jackett’s purchase in the summer, someone who was at the top of his shopping list for the majority.
It’s likely he’ll return to striker duties – especially after showing his diversity and willingness to feature the other end of the field.
But it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Main’s name is on the team-sheet.
BURGESS FINALLY TO JOIN 100 CLUB
The 100 club seems to be a bit of a curse at Pompey recently.
Kyle Bennett was the first centurion this season against Walsall, but has been dislodged from the team by Matty Kennedy since the Scot’s arrival from Cardiff.
Gareth Evans was next to raise his bat to the pavilion at Wigan – but was trapped plumb lbw the next ball when was sent off in that game after he struggled to cope with the Latics’ potent attack.
Christian Burgess and Conor Chaplin are both stuck on 99 not out, with the former hoping to finally join the 100 club tomorrow. Chaplin is still out injured.
Since his move from Peterborough, the 26-year-old has been a fans’ favourite because of his impressive displays.
He has every attribute a defender requires and looks capable of playing at a higher level – a Rolls Royce defender, assistant manager Joe Gallen described him.
Likely to start alongside long-time partner Matt Clarke, Burgess’ presence will strengthen Pompey’s rearguard, while he also has a raking pass in his arsenal to get things going from the back.