Portsmouth v Sunderland – pre-match talking points ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy final

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the pre-match talking points ahead of today’s Checkatrade Trophy final between Pompey and Sunderland...

The Pompey dressing room at Wembley. Picture: Joe Pepler
The Pompey dressing room at Wembley. Picture: Joe Pepler

Will Curtis feature?

All of the impressions this week have led to the thought Ronan Curtis will be lining up this afternoon.

Despite severing his finger in his front door just under three weeks ago, the Irishman has made a swift recovery.

Initially ruled out for 4-6 weeks, Curtis has had his stitches removed and trained with his team-mates for the first time on Wednesday. He came through that unscathed. 

If the winger is named in Kenny Jackett’s starting XI, it will be a massive boost to the Blues.

He’s ripped up League One this season and demonstrated just how important he is to the side on umpteen occasions with 12 goals and 15 assists. 

Having been forced to sit on the sidelines for a short spell, the 23-year-old will be champing at the bit to get back out on the green and show his quality at the national stadium.


Who will lead the line?

Kenny Jackett doesn’t have many selection headaches against Sunderland.

The Pompey boss has named a stable team throughout the campaign, only making changes when injuries or suspensions force him into one.

But Jackett does have to decide if Omar Bogle or Oli Hawkins will spearhead his forward line.

The latter is more of a natural goalscorer, having netting four times in nine appearances since his loan arrival from Cardiff.

And it’s meant Jackett has been able to accommodate Brett Pitman in the No10 position, a decision that has been welcomed by large sections of supporters.

The formula has yielded three successive victories in League One, giving Pompey an outside chance of clinching automatic promotion. 

However, Hawkins’ substitute cameo at Shrewsbury underlined the attributes he offers to the Blues.

His hold-up play is superior to Bogle’s and it brings dangermen Jamal Lowe and Curtis into the game more often. 

However, Hawkins presence would mean dropping Pitman to the bench, as Jackett has stated he doesn’t feel there’s enough pace for them to play together.

Gareth Evans would then come into the hole behind the striker.



A day to remember

The atmosphere has already been crackling around Wembley.

The Boxpark, in Wembley Way, has only been allocated to Pompey fans.

And at 10.30am, the songs were already being belted out by members of the Fratton faithful.

The noise must be deafening in there now.

The good thing about today’s final is it’s not the be all and end all for Pompey.

Promotion is the main aim.

Nevertheless, Brett Pitman hoisting the Checkatrade Trophy aloft in front of the Royal Box would still be a moment to remember for the 40,300 fans who are inside.