Defiant Portsmouth chief's encouraging message over Championship challenge ahead

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They will be competing against England internationals, teams boasting Premier League parachute payments and established Championship sides.

Yet Rich Hughes is confident Pompey can adapt to their new climate - and won’t need to rip up a current winning formula.

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In preparation, the sporting director has revealed the Blues have researched what it takes to be successful at Championship level, analysing opposition and trends.

Pompey ended their successful League One season at Lincoln in April. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesPompey ended their successful League One season at Lincoln in April. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Pompey ended their successful League One season at Lincoln in April. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages | Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

Inevitably, the forthcoming season represents a huge challenge for the League One title winners, who will face the likes of Leeds, Burnley, Sheffield United, Luton and West Brom.

Ominously, two of the clubs promoted from League One in 2022-23 finished in the bottom five, with Rotherham relegated after two years away.

Regardless, Hughes has come to the conclusion the Pompey model which earned promotion can continue to thrive at a higher level.

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He told The News: ‘There are varying degrees like any league, you watch the top end of the Championship and there are some really, really talented players.

‘There are teams with parachute payments who are recruiting international players. You look at Leicester last season, who signed someone like Harry Winks, who is an England international.

‘There are varying degrees to it, but we have done a lot of research, we have seen what it takes to be successful, we have broken down the numbers for what successful teams look like in the Championship.

‘There are some really good athletes, some really good footballers, really good styles of play, but there’s nothing that says we can’t compete alongside that at various points and keep doing what we’re doing to continue being successful.

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‘A nice example is Ryley Towler, who only started three league games. Then you see a real marked difference between the Ryley Towler who played against Bristol Rovers in the first game of the season, the Ryley Towler who played against Fleetwood and was excellent, and the Ryley Towler who played against Lincoln who was outstanding.

‘Players will adapt to different scenarios and that’s what you get with these younger players, you get a capacity for growth.’

Using Towler as an example, Hughes believes there will be a number of the current squad who will be given the chance to prove they can be Championship performers.

And their personal evolution can drive Pompey’s adjustment to surroundings they last occupied more than 12 years ago.

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Hughes added: ‘Ryley is of a great age where he is developing and, when he’s been out of the team, he has been working harder and harder and harder every week, knocking on the door asking questions.

‘When he gets his opportunity he takes it - and that will be the challenge in the Championship now.

‘These lads will get this scenario where they need to go and compete in it - and it’s up to them to get themselves in the team, stop in the team, and to perform well.’

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