Portsmouth players make views clear over impact of fatigue on season after MK Dons loss

Callum Johnson vowed Pompey’s players will not let fatigue be used as an excuse for the season faltering.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 6:30 am

And the Blues defender is adamant Danny Cowley’s creaking squad can withstand the demands of a frenetic final three weeks of the season.

Pompey fell out of the play-off places on Saturday following a 1-0 loss at MK Dons, as Oxford United climbed into the top six.

Cowley was without injured pair Lee Brown and Ben Close at Stadium MK, with Andy Cannon carrying a back issue on the bench.

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With Ellis Harrison out for the season and both Jordy Hiwula and Alex Bass in the treatment room, Pompey’s lack of options were compounded by Jack Whatmough being ruled out for four games after a second red card of the campaign.

It means there’s going to be plenty of minutes for the majority of senior players over the coming weeks.

And, despite there being plenty of talk of that impacting the team’s fitness levels, Johnson was adamant that wasn’t an excuse the players would offer up.

Callum Johnson

He said: ‘It’s not an excuse we will use.

‘We’ve got all the facilities at the training ground and all the right people around this. We’ve got all the right people there.

‘We’re professional footballers, we can’t stand here and say I’m tired because we’ve played 40 games this season - that’s what you want to do.

‘You want to play 40, 46 or 49 league games with the play-offs.

‘We can’t use that as an excuse, there are no excuses.

‘We’ve just got to get there - and there’s only us who can do that.

‘Everyone wants to play so you can’t moan because we’re playing 90 minutes and 90 minutes every week.

‘That’s ultimately what you want as a footballer, and you want to be playing in these games where you are battling to get into the play-offs and the top end of the league.

‘These are the games you want to play in - games like these last five games.’

The loss of Whatmough was a blow for Pompey, with the defender becoming an increasing influence with some excellent form over recent weeks.

The 24-year-old could have few complaints with the outcome, however, after a late lunge on Charlie Brown.

Johnson knows what a loss his defensive team-mate will be now.

He added: ‘I was running back and just glanced over, it looked like he won the ball but it’s maybe the follow through.

‘It’s obviously disappointing for him and disappointing for us because we all know how good a player he is.

‘But someone else will have an opportunity to go in and hopefully get us over the line.

‘He’s done really well and I like playing with him, I’d hope he’d say the same about me.

‘He’s a real good player who’s had a good season.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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