Selection dilemma mounts for Cotterill

Sylvain Deslandes made his Pompey debut against Rotherham. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey duo give Jackett plenty to mull over

Steve Cotterill faces yet more selection woe after another unnamed player was ruled out of tomorrow's trip to Watford.

The Blues boss had already seen his squad whittled down to perhaps just 13 first-team regulars to choose from, with Michael Brown, Richard Hughes and Dave Kitson all definitely out, while both Jamie Ashdown and Joel Ward are struggling with injuries.

But Cotterill's selection plans have been further dented by the news he will have to make do without another first-teamer tomorrow, although he was understandably guarded on the player's identity.

Cotterill said: 'Tomorrow will be tough for us because of where we are numbers-wise.

'Not just the obvious numbers missing as well. There will be another person missing, which will be a blow.

'Don't ask who it is but they will be added to those already not in the squad.

'That makes it a blow as well.

'To get through a starting line-up, I needed just one more body, even if I had a makeshift team.

'But I don't want to give away too much at this moment in time.'

In the wake of the ongoing contractual issues surrounding Brown and Hughes, it could perhaps be down to another previously unknown contract clause rearing its head.

But it is yet another problem for the manager to wrestle with as he attempts to keep his side challenging for the play-offs with the genuine prospect he could be able to name just two substitutes.

He said: 'It's how it's been all season to be honest.

'I'm not looking for any sympathy vote but that's where it is. We've had a lot of situations where we've had only three or four on the bench this season and players have not been available.

'You have two choices: you either stand up and fight or you give in and I'm not about to be giving in.'

Cotterill also confirmed midfielder Liam Lawrence is due to complete his permanent move to Pompey on New Year's Day.

He said: 'The deal will become permanent on January 1.'

But the Blues boss is planning without both Brown and Hughes.

He said: 'They are not in my thoughts for the team for New Year's Day.

'Now it depends if there are any others to replace them. That's the 64 million dollar question.'