Bridging gap to automatic promotion the ambition for Portsmouth skipper over second half of season

Tom Naylor has targeted an assault on the automatic promotion berths over the second half of the season.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 6:00 am

The Blues captain believes his side are capable of creeping up on the race to reach the Championship in the new year.

And Naylor is confident the team are now settled and in a position to reel in the League One pacesetters over the coming months.

Pompey’s victory over high-flying Ipswich on Saturday has injected confidence into the ranks after the Accrington loss, and makes it a single loss in 12 for Kenny Jackett’s men.

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The gap to the play-offs is now down to two points as we approach the half-way point of the season.

But Naylor explained he’s looking at the top two and bridging the five-point gap to the automatics slots.

He said: 'We got in the play-offs last season and were unfortunate not to get automatic.

'We had a chance but fell short in the last three games of the season.

Tom Naylor

'The play-offs are a bonus if we can’t get automatics, but we’re close to the play-offs.

'With the size of our club we should be pushing for automatics. The only way is up at the minute.

'We’re winning games and we’re slowly coming through a few teams.

'The play-offs are there but if we go on a good run I don’t see why we can’t get automatics. We’re close.’

The gap is in fact five points to Peterborough who currently sit in second with surprise package 12 points clear of Pompey at the top.

Pompey also have a game in hand on the top two and, with, Naylor convinced the side is now settled after a summer shake-up, he feels the Blues will grow from this point.

He added: 'With the gelling situation we’ve got it there now.

'We know what the boys are capable of, but time is key.

'Once we get over this Christmas period we’ll see where we are.

'We might be fourth or third. We don’t know.

'If we’re around that mark, why not look further up the table.

'Let’s just enjoy ourselves with no pressure and look to win games.’

Naylor is seeking inspiration from Barnsley as his side aim to build on their momentum in 2020.

The Tykes sensationally secured promotion from League One in the 2015-16 season, despite being bottom of the table in December.

They achieved that via the play-offs, but Naylor feels their run shows what can be achieved in the third tier.

He added: 'We were on fire last season and top by six points. We fell short.

'I’d rather do it this way around and have a late surge coming to the end of the season.

'I think Barnsley did it a few years ago.

'They were nowhere near it and just went on a massive run to get promoted.

'That’s what we want to do now, stay under the radar, get up there and try to get one of the autos.

'I don’t see why we can’t. I fully believe in what we’ve got in the dressing room.

'Maybe another couple of players in January will help, but we’ve got loads of fire power and players on the bench as well.'