Portsmouth absences paving way for deserved Checkatrade Trophy final place for Louis Dennis against Sunderland
When Pompey booked their Wembley place at Bury, there were plenty of fans who spared a thought for one player they felt should have been part of the celebrations.
But Louis Dennis was nowhere to be seen at Gigg Lane.
The man who’d been key to the Blues reaching the semi-finals had his place in Kenny Jackett’s squad taken away from him.
The forward’s maiden Pompey season hasn’t gone how he’d have envisaged, after completing a move from non-league Bromley last summer.
Having ripped up the National League last season, he’s been on the periphery of things at PO4 during the promotion push this term.
It took Dennis until January 19 to make his first and only League One appearance – a substitute outing at Oxford, in which he created Brett Pitman’s consolation goal in the 2-1 loss.
The 26-year-old also featured in both FA Cup fourth-round ties against QPR, although he hasn’t been seen since the 2-0 replay defeat.
It’s been the Checkatrade Trophy that has given Dennis the platform to demonstrate his talent this campaign – and he’s largely impressed.
The former Dagenham man caught the eye in his five appearances and won Player of the Round in the last 16 following a goalscoring display in the 2-0 win at Southend.
But Dennis could only manage a place on the bench in the quarter-final win over Peterborough, while he wasn’t involved at Bury.
Following the Gigg Lane triumph, it looked like he would also be left out of the Wembley final squad against Sunderland.
As things stand, however, Dennis may take up a spot on the bench at the national stadium.
It looks like he’ll be 19th man, at least.
Ronan Curtis has been given the green light to play after having his stitches out after severing his finger.
He’ll assess in training whether his complaint causes him too much grief to feature at the national stadium or not.
But regardless of Curtis’ availability, the Blues are already light of attacking options.
Birmingham loanee Viv Solomon-Otabor is set to be sidelined with a calf injury, while Lloyd Isgrove represented Barnsley in the competition earlier this season.
In addition, a groin complaint looks to scupper Dion Donohue’s chances.
And although they’re not fully fit, Bryn Morris and Andy Cannon couldn’t have been involved anyway, having played for Wycombe and Rochdale in the Checkatrade Trophy before their January switches to the south coast.
Dennis will likely hold talks with Jackett on his future at the end of the campaign.
But in the meantime, a place at Wembley on Sunday would be nothing but deserved.