Talking points ahead of Pompey’s trip to Northampton

Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dave Waterman, right, and his brother Lee following a Great South Run effort in Oakley's name. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143044-319)

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Will Rooney looks ahead to Pompey’s trip to Northampton and discusses the main talking points.

A BIG CHANCE FOR CHAPLIN

January was the last time Conor Chaplin scored when he was given a starting berth in Pompey’s line-up.

That came in a 2-1 victory against Leyton Orient at Fratton Park, with the academy product bagging a double.

For most of his Blues first-team career, the striker has functioned as an impact substitute – but he is determined to drop the label of super-sub and stamp his authority on the team.

Both of the 20-year-old’s goals this season have been from the bench against Wigan and AFC Wimbledon respectively.

The two were fine strikes and displayed his nous and instinct in front of goal.

Chaplin looks poised to start against Northampton this evening in the injury absence of Oliver Hawkins, who was forced off at half-time at Kingsmeadow after a nasty clash of heads with Callum Kennedy.

If Chaplin does want to scratch off the stigma of him being an impact substitute, a goal from the offset against the Cobblers will significantly help.

The Worthing talent forged a blossoming partnership with Brett Pitman in pre-season.

Although it hasn’t been deployed as much as some fans would have liked so far this season, the duo seem to have a good understanding of one-another’s strengths and could cause Northampton’s rearguard all sorts of problems.

OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD MOMENTUM

It’s almost like a mini Christmas period in League One.

Come 5pm on Saturday, all 24 teams will have played three games in eight days.

Although it’s early in the season, these sort of periods can significantly shake up the league and give a glimpse of how the table might finish come May.

Kenny Jackett’s side currently sit 14th with eight points, which, from the outside looking in, seems about fair and where Pompey are currently.

The Blues produced a gritty and resilient performance on Saturday at AFC Wimbledon and it yielded a second victory of the season.

Tonight’s game at Sixfields is an opportunity to clinch back-to-back wins and build crucial momentum.

Northampton will be no easy fixture this evening.

After a miserable start to the campaign, confidence will be high at Sixfields following a 1-0 win against Doncaster under new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and the Cobblers will be buoyant ahead of Pompey’s arrival.

WHO WILL MAKE THE SQUAD?

It was Gareth Evans who missed out on a place in Kenny Jackett’s match-day squad against the Dons.

The previous weekend, Kyle Bennett was forced to watch Pompey lose 1-0 to Rotherham from the stands at Fratton Park.

Assessing his past two match-day squads, Jackett’s prerogative is to have only one winger among his substitutes, while Kal Naismith’s versatility means he can play out wide if needs be.

Matty Kennedy’s arrival and impressive start at Pompey, meanwhile, has made it even tougher for the likes of Evans, Bennett and Milan Lalkovic to thrust their way into contention.

The latter is back fit for the trip to Northampton after suffering from an Achilles problem for the past two matches. It means another contender for the sole wide man spot on the bench.

Bennett came on at Kingsmeadow and looked lively, and Evans has been given the backing of his boss to bounce back.

Oliver Hawkins’ absence opens up a position in Jackett’s 18-mam squad, but the Bluess boss could prefer to go with a like-for-like option and select Curtis Main instead.