GARY ROBERTS believes Pompey would’ve been a top-six side in League One this season.
And the Blues’ attacking midfielder reckons his side will be more suited to the third tier of the English game than League Two.
Paul Cook’s side have been made second favourites for the title next season.
Sky Bet make Pompey 11/4 to win the league behind Blackburn, who are priced at 9/4 after being relegated from the Championship.
Roberts feels the brand of football played by Cook will work better at a higher level.
And the 33-year-old is confident the current side would have fared well if they were there this season.
Roberts said: Why can’t we make our mark next season?
‘I’ve played in both leagues. The top six will be strong and better than the rest.
‘But I believe this season in League One we would have been in the top six.
‘There is a difference in quality at the top of that league.
‘It’s a lot stronger than anything in League Two.
‘With respect to League One, I think we would’ve been alright if were in there this season.
‘It’ll suit us in League One. We’d have been top six.
‘Sheffield United were strong, Bolton are physically strong and Bradford as well. They are big clubs.
‘We can’t go into League One saying we’d be happy with a top-half finish.
‘We’ll be one of the favourites to go up. That says it all.’
Roberts was part of a Chesterfield side who won the League Two title before going on to make the play-offs the next season two years ago.
He feels there is no reason why Pompey can’t replicate that kind of progress.
And the Scouser is hopeful stepping up a division will make some sides more ambitious when they come to Fratton Park.
Roberts said: ‘People don’t see budgets, they see the size of the club.
‘Listen, we won’t be taking a backward step.
‘Our ambition will be to get out of that league.
‘When I was at Chesterfield we had a good side and quietly fancied our chances of going well.
‘After a good start we never feared anyone in that league.
‘Teams will have respect for us. We will still be a massive club in that division.
‘It’ll be interesting to see how it goes and whether teams will come out more at Fratton Park.
‘You’re hoping so.’
Roberts is pleased he can head off this summer knowing Pompey have given fans something to celebrate.
That’s a far cry from last season when his team suffered play-off heartache at Plymouth.
That was a low ebb for the former Swindon man.
Roberts said: ‘We were on our last legs last summer and there’s the mental side. It took a lot of time to get over that.
‘It’s the worst defeat I’ve suffered. I took it really badly.
‘So it’s pleasing we’ve got something to reflect on with a smile this summer.’
– JORDAN CROSS