Southampton boss backs comedy keeper

Saints keeper Bartosz Bialkowski
Saints keeper Bartosz Bialkowski

Gaffer: Surreal experience but a deserved Pompey win

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Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has backed calamity keeper Bartosz Bialkowski to handle the pressure of the south coast derby if called upon.

Bialkowski conceded a comedy goal which proved costly for his team as they were held to a home draw against Blackpool last Saturday.

It was one for the bloopers DVD as Bialkowski let Callum McManaman’s tame shot go through his legs at St Mary’s.

Regular No1 Kelvin Davis is close to recovering from a calf injury in time for the game.

If that happens, he will take his place between the sticks at Fratton Park.

Adkins insists he has no problem going with Bialkowski, however, if he was needed.

He said: ‘If Bart has to play, I have every confidence in him. Kelvin Davis is making good progress but I’m not saying who is in the team.

‘Bart will be better for coming through the experience he endured against Blackpool.

‘We see him every day in training and we know what a good goalkeeper he can be.

‘If called on, he will do well. He will not make that sort of mistake a second time.

‘Kelvin has been my first choice and has played in every league game until last week. He is a consistent performer.’

Adkins believes his team’s status as Championship pacesetters will give Pompey an extra determination going into the game.

He reckons Michael Appleton’s men will raise their performances because it’s the leaders they are facing.

Adkins said: ‘As leaders, we are there to be shot at.

‘Everyone raises their games against the leaders but being on top is a great place to be.

‘Our aim was always to be up and around the top by the end of January and this match is another on the road to accomplishing that.

‘To be where we are shows we have been consistent and have the desire and hunger to carry it on.’