Ronan Curtis: Sunderland want to settle score but Portsmouth are better and can fend off revenge charge
Ronan Curtis vowed Pompey are ready to fend off Sunderland’s play-off revenge assault.
And the Republic of Ireland international is adamant his team are the better outfit as the two foes get ready to lock horns once again.
Kenny Jackett’s men make the long trip to the north east for the second time in a fortnight looking to continue a decent record against the Black Cats this term.
The Blues picked up a 3-1 win at Fratton Park in December and followed that up with a Checkatrade Trophy win in March, before delivering a 1-1 draw on the road.
The Sunderland players have made no secret of the fact they are keen to dish out some retribution, as they bid to end a run of nine games without a win against Pompey stretching back to 2008.
But Curtis remains confident his team have the superior quality to fend off that charge.
He said: ‘I think we’ve done an amazing job to come fourth.
‘It’s been a season of ups and downs but now we play Sunderland.
‘It’s a big ask and they are going to want to get one back on us. We need to be ready for that. That’s our mind set.
‘We’ve met them a lot and I can see this being another end-to-end game.
‘We’ve beaten them at Fratton, Wembley and got a good draw at their place.
‘I can see it being another excellent game with our fans getting behind us.
‘Who’s the better side? Us - we’ve got two over them already!
‘We need to go there with the better mentality, work ethic and show up again.
‘Anything can happen over the two legs but we’ve got confidence and are looking forward to it.’
There is a huge amount riding on the outcome of the next two games, with a Championship berth the goal.
The stakes are high for Sunderland after successive relegations and being big favourites to make a return to the second tier.
Pompey fans are also expectant, however, but Curtis feels the evidence is the players can take the heat.
He added: ‘We’ve handled pressure this season. There’s no doubt we can handle that.
‘But I don’t feel like there’s nerves or butterflies. This will be the fourth time we’ve played them.
‘We know what we’re good at and we know what they’re like. It’s going to be a fantastic game and I can’t wait.
‘It’s a big ask for them because they are looking to bounce back and get to the Championship - but we want to get there.
‘This season has been a dream come true for me - and topping it with promotion would make it even better.
‘I’m ready for the game - and I can’t wait for it.’