Joe Gallen: Portsmouth prioritising third-place finish after top-two heartbreak

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Joe Gallen insisted Pompey will do all they can to ensure they finish the season in third place.

The Blues currently occupy the spot immediately below the automatic promotion places secured by Luton and Barnsley as they prepare for Saturday’s visit of Accrington on Fratton Park.

Pompey assistant manager Joe Gallen

Pompey assistant manager Joe Gallen

Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat to Peterborough ruined any hope of clinching a spot in the top two.

And with some fans’ thoughts now turning to the forthcoming play-offs, it’s been suggested that Pompey use the Accy game to recharge the batteries of some of their key contributors.

Such a ploy could leave the door open for their play-off rivals to finish above Kenny Jackett’s side in the final league standings – and, theoretically, hand them easier fixtures as the season is extended.

Both Sunderland and Charlton are two points adrift of the Blues as they prepare to face Southend and Rochdale respectively at the weekend.

But Gallen was adamant that wouldn’t happen.

He’s keen on the Blues to improve as much as they can on last season’s eighth-place finish

‘If we do win on Saturday – and we have a lot of work to do in order for that to happen –  it will leave us in third place, which is the highest place we can finish as it currently stands.

‘That will be a massive improvement on last year’s eighth finish.

‘Ultimately, at the start of the season, we were looking to improve on that eighth finish about 68 points.

‘But we’re going to do that anyway, but finishing third is a priority for us.’

Pompey sit third on 87 points from their 45 games played to date – four adrift of leaders Luton and Barnsley.

As things stand, the Blues would play sixth-placed Doncaster in the play-offs.

However, Peterborough’s win at Fratton Park on Tuesday night retained their interest in a top-six finish.

They sit a point below Rovers, with a home game against Burton Albion awaiting them.

Doncaster are at home to Coventry on the final day of the season.