The real League One promotion race starts now - Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett
Kenny Jackett surveyed the League One table and insisted: The promotion race starts from this point.
It has proven to be a congested battleground in the fight for Championship football, with no side able to scramble clear of their rivals.
Certainly, the promotion situation has become intriguing, while continuing to provide hope to a lengthy number of contenders.
However, with the season now entering its final third, Jackett is convinced the table is at last beginning to take shape.
With 15 matches remaining, the sixth-placed Blues are in the thick of the action, despite a midweek defeat at high-flying Coventry.
And Pompey’s boss believes now is the time when the competition begins to slip away – leaving behind the true challengers.
He said: ‘You get different times when clubs break away, but the promotion race is usually open until February, around this time.
‘The ratio of the points you have to make up, to the points available, is always the key. Some are between 40-45 points to play for.
‘There can still be a 10-point swing out of that, whatever people say. But as they start getting towards 30-35, the 10-point swing is massive.
‘Up until this stage, I do think it has been pretty open. However, from now going into the final third you may tick a few sides off around that 12th-10th place.
‘It crystallises towards the ones you can see are competing towards the top of the league, which is obviously where we want to be.
‘It has been wide open up until this point. Some sides are now putting runs together, some of the big clubs are definitely coming towards the top – and we have to work hard to stay up there and keep the pace.
‘Rotherham and Peterborough are on great runs, to be fair to Wycombe they have stuck in there. There’s Sunderland and ourselves, Coventry have lost only three times, Doncaster have come in on a run, and you cannot rule out clubs like Fleetwood.
‘There are 8-10 clubs all in there and all are capable.’
Pompey are five points adrift of second-placed Peterborough, with three games in hand.
In terms of play-off positions, the Blues presently occupy the final spot, with a one-point cushion ahead of Ipswich, although having played two fewer matches.
And Jackett believes a strong finish can be decisive.
He added: ‘Most leagues are won by sides whose record is unbelievable in the final stretch.
‘Look at Barnsley last year, it was very, very good and they took second place.
‘Generally the ones that do get promoted and successful ones from herein have good points totals and a high amount of wins.’