Every word Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley said in the build-up to tonight's game against Oxford at Fratton Park

Pompey have had a worrying injury record this term and in his latest chat with The News, Danny Cowley revealed there could be some fresh blows to his already diminished squad.

By Pepe Lacey
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 2:59 pm

Ahead of tonight’s game against Oxford, Cowley believed ‘one or two’ players could be impacted by the recent fixture congestion.

The Blues are already without Michael Jacobs, Shaun Williams and Kieron Freeman, while Ronan Curtis is suspended for tonight’s encounter.

Amid the fresh injury set-back, chief sports writer Neil Allen was able to fire the questions to the Pompey boss ahead of the game at Fratton Park.

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Here’s what else was covered...

Q: Have you had a chance to re-watch that crazy game from Saturday?

‘I’ve had a chance to watch it back twice. We have two statisticians who break the game down for us and it usually takes them 12 hours each to analyse a game, but they sent their analysis through about 3pm (Monday) because it took so long.

‘It usually takes about 24 hours between them but I think on this occasion it took about 30 because so much happened.

Danny Cowley has revealed there could be 'one or two' potential fresh injury concerns amid Pompey fixture conjestion.

‘For us as a group we have to take responsibility for three goals that we conceded to understand why.

‘I thought we needed to do better in those early exchanges in the physical duels, in the first and second balls and also in the defensive one v one moments.

‘You have to also consider that they had four shots and they scored three goals with their expected goals less than one.

‘I think they only had five touches in our box in the whole game so when you see those stats you don’t normally concede three goals.

‘I think, statistically, it would be a game we would win 99 out of 100 times.

‘We have to take responsibility for those three goals but we should also take pride and some inspiration from that second-half performance.

‘To perform as well as we did under the most intense pressure, that we caused, was really positive and there was a lot to like in that second half.’

Q: During your career have you had a side come from 3-0 down to draw a game before?

‘We’ve come back to win games before.

‘I think the qualities of our teams always have been having that never-say-die attitude and willing to go to the end and fight and give it everything you’ve got.

‘If you want to be a successful team you have to win games in all different ways, whether that’s playing well and getting the first goal then winning, or win when you don’t play so well, winning in the dying moments of games or coming from behind to win.

‘The best teams are able to do that but I’m pleased with how this group is growing in terms of spirit and togetherness, but also the fight – and we should be inspired by that second-half performance because there was rather a lot to like.

‘But you also have to credit the supporters, who I thought were magnificent on Saturday.

‘It was the first time Nicky and I experienced a sold-out Fratton Park and I know there was lots of building work going on and it wasn’t full capacity, but we filled every seat that was available and the way they stuck with us when we had some difficult moments in the first half and the way they drove our energy in the second half was fantastic.

‘We’re going to need them all there this evening.’

Q: We’ve seen capitulations from this team earlier this season but on Saturday you came back, what do you make of that?

‘I think we showed a lot of fortitude, a lot of character, a lot of fight and also a lot of quality.

‘Our expected goals was 4.66 and we scored three but we should’ve had six, seven or eight.

‘There was a lot to like in the second half. I thought we played with a lot more purpose, moved the ball quicker, disrupted their defensive line with some really good movements and had 55 nearly 60 box touches in their box, which are all positives.

‘Also, we’ve scored seven goals in our last two games at home, so for us it’s always to take the positives and be self aware enough to look at the areas we need to improve in and try to see the best out of each other in a world where we don’t always do that as a society at the moment.

‘In our environment we like to see the best in each other.’

Another crazy game was against Oxford, what’s your memory of that?

‘We felt a certain level of injustice to play as long as we did with 10 men, but we played with spirit and fight.

‘We all felt the pain of that first game against Oxford and have kept that pain pretty close. We’ll use it to fuel us against Oxford.

‘There’s no bad blood between the camps, just a real motivation from us to play at our best and to find a way of winning the match.

‘I think what happened in the tunnel has been discussed already and I don’t think there’s anything more to say on the matter really.

‘I believe the FA did an investigation and the matter wasn’t taken any further. We’ve had good communication from the FA, as always.

‘Nothing happened and, as a consequence, there was nothing to investigate.

‘You guys brought it (the investigation) to my attention, it surprised me at the time, but the investigation happened quite quickly – and it ended quite quickly as well.’

Q: What’s the injury situation like for Oxford?

‘Whenever the games come thick and fast it’s the nature of football that you’re going to pick up some injuries so we do have some challenges like we did on Saturday and we will try to pick the best team we have available.

‘I know a lot is made about formation and team selection and everyone only knows what we can tell you and sometimes we can’t tell you the full extent of everything that goes on.

‘We will always try to pick the best team for any given opponent on any given day.’

Q: Ronan Curtis is suspended for the game, are there any other additional injuries for the game?

‘We have got one or two but when the games come thick and fast like this we do have one or two that we’ve got some concern over.

‘There’s a lot to jungle but you have to have balls to jungle and we do have a small squad but we’ll work through it like we have done all season and it’s been a challenge but we’ll continue to work through it and try to see the positives and we’ll just put our focus and energy into the players we do have available.’