Portsmouth facing lengthy break and frenetic end to season with serious concerns how schedule will impact renewed play-off hopes

Pompey’s season is set to grind to a halt at a critical point in their invigorated play-off chase.

By Jordan Cross
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 10:52 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 10:55 am

And Danny Cowley’s men will then face a frenetic finale to the campaign to deal with a fixture backlog, which has now crystallised.

That’s become clear after the teams who will contest the final of the Papa John’s Trophy were settled last night.

The Blues will need to find a new date for their home clash with Rotherham on April 2, after the Millers secured a final spot by beating Hartlepool on penalties.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The date that game was scheduled for follows on from the trip to Bolton on March 26 - which looks likely to fall foul of call-ups for both teams over the international break.

Republic of Ireland pair Gavin Bazunu and Ronan Curtis could be called up for their country along with Ollie Webber (Northern Ireland under-21s). Joe Morrell is suspended for Wales’ World Cup play-off semi-final against Austria, but could be involved in a camp for his country.

There was the potential option to move the Bolton game to April 2 if Wigan had joined Rotherham in the Trophy final - with, by a quirk of fate, the Latics due to play Ian Evatt’s team that weekend. Wigan losing at home to Sutton on Tuesday night put paid to that outcome, however.

It likely leaves Pompey with a two-and-a-half week break after the Wycombe clash on March 19.

Danny Cowley. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

The next fixture currently on the schedule, as and when Bolton is called off, is the trip to Cheltenham on April 9.

Pompey would then look to work in one of the outstanding games on April 5.

That would then leave the other match to be slotted in around the Easter break, with the Rotherham game potentially played on Wednesday, April 13.

That would make for a frenetic schedule of three games over a five-day period, with the home meeting with Lincoln on Good Friday followed by the trek to Morecambe on Easter Monday.

Cowley’s men saw how a halt to their season can negatively impact momentum, when they went nine league games without defeat up to the win over Morecambe on December 11.

Pompey struggled after the return from the stoppage due to the Covid pandemic in January, and went six League One games without a win.

There is also concern from Cowley about his squad’s ability to deal with an intense run of fixtures, as he operates with just 14 senior outfield players.

A break could prove useful in allowing the likes of Michael Jacobs to get up to speed after his knee injury, however.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can support our local team of expert Pompey writers by subscribing here for all the latest news from Fratton Park for less than 25p per week.