Sunderland boss Lee Johnson gives Portsmouth rival Danny Cowley vote of confidence

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Lee Johnson believes Danny Cowley is the right man to lead Pompey.

And the Sunderland boss – who takes his side to Fratton Park on Saturday in League One – believes it is only a matter of time before the Blues boss gets his side to ‘click’.

Pompey host the Black Cats with 10 points already separating the two teams in the table.

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While the 13th-placed Blues are currently on a seven-match league run without a win, Sunderland are riding high at the top of the standings with seven victories from nine in the division. They also have a game in hand on Cowley’s men.

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.  Picture:  Lewis Storey/Getty ImagesSunderland boss Lee Johnson.  Picture:  Lewis Storey/Getty Images
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Johnson’s outfit will go into the game as favourites – despite the Blues being at home – and eager to inflict yet more misery on one of their perceived pre-season rivals for promotion.

But the Sunderland boss admitted Pompey have recruited well over the summer regardless of some high-profile departures.

And he is of the opinion that ‘really good manager’ Cowley will get it right at PO4.

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Johnson told Chronicle Live: ‘Danny has gone in there to a huge club.

‘They have had to articulate the challenges of League One.

‘I know Danny really well, we talk on quite a regular basis, and I have a lot of respect for his work.

‘He's a really good recruiter and a really good manager, so I think Portsmouth have got absolutely the right man there and I think that will show as time goes on.

‘Like all of us, he has had to cut his cloth and that's not easy because they have lost some good players, some that they probably wouldn't have wanted to lose, but they have also recruited some good players and it's just about getting that team to click.

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‘But if you look at Ipswich's result the other night (a 6-0 home win against Doncaster), that's a tell-tale sign that they are starting to click, and Portsmouth will click as well.’

Johnson oversaw Sunderland’s 2-0 victory against the Blues on his last visit to Fratton Park on March 9.

That turned out to be Kenny Jackett’s last league match in charge of Pompey as his home side were outclassed.

No fans were present for that game due to coronavirus.

But with Saturday’s match a sell-out, Johnson know his side will need to be at their best if they are to pick up another important win.

He added: ‘It's a really tough game for us.

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‘I've always found Fratton Park a good place to play and to manage, but it is a difficult place.

‘They will be potentially perceived as the underdog, just because of the league position, so it is a dangerous place to go and we will have to be at our best, it's as simple as that.

‘What we have to respect is that Portsmouth have, like ourselves, got a really good fanbase and that makes it a really difficult place to play.

‘We know where we are, we know we are still developing our game style and trying to improve it in a number of ways, and what has been nice over the last few weeks has been to see that improvement.’