The surviving Portsmouth trio who looked set to have another final say against Salford

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It was supposed to be another day out to remember.

The alarm clocks should have been ringing this morning with fans eagerly jumping out of bed to prepare for another fine afternoon in London rather than frantically looking for the snooze button.

Pompey were today set for a second trip to Wembley in as many years, defending their EFL Trophy title against Salford City.

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Yet, as you know, that experience remains on hold, leaving the more than 50,000 members of the Fratton faithful who were due to arrive at the home of football – a record for the biggest single fanbase present for a domestic fixture at new Wembley as a neutral venue – patiently waiting for their big day out.

On a positive note, at least they’ve still got the memories of last year’s triumph over fellow League One heavyweights Sunderlandto get them through the impasse.

A few beers in the sunshine, both sets of supporters selling their 42,000-plus ticket allocations, a high-octane encounter with an abundance of drama and a shootout victory which culminated in the Blues lifting the silverware aloft from the royal box.

Pure bliss – and a day we’ll all remember fondly for years to come.

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Fast forward 12 months, though, and the side boss Kenny Jackett would have probably named today would have looked entirely different to the team which took on the Black Cats and triumphed.

Pompey celebrate their penalty shootout triumph over Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Jordan Mansfield/Getty ImagesPompey celebrate their penalty shootout triumph over Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Pompey celebrate their penalty shootout triumph over Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images | 2019 Getty Images

Just three players who featured from the outset against Sunderland would have likely been in the starting XI for the clash with Salford – Christian Burgess, Ronan Curtis and Tom Naylor.

Goalscorers Nathan Thompson and Jamal Lowe departed Fratton Park upon Pompey’s failure to be promoted last term, moving to Peterborough and Wigan respectively.

Man-of-the-match Matt Clarke got a deserved switch to Premier League Brighton, while Omar Bogle’s loan from Cardiff expired at the end of the campaign.

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Craig MacGillivray was Pompey's shootout hero against Sunderland, with his stop from Lee Cattermole proving decisive.

The Scot, however, has found himself behind Alex Bass in the pecking order since the 1-1 draw with Gillingham in New Year's Day.

And with the academy graduate starting the semi-final victory over Exeter, it demonstrated he’d have been between the posts for a maiden Wembley outing.

Lee Brown – who performed magnificently in last year’s final – has been unable to dislodge impressive Birmingham loanee Steve Seddon since recovering from Achilles surgery.

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Ben Close has also found it difficult to shift Cameron McGeehan, who arrived on loan from Barnsley in January.

Although, that battle is more fierce than most other berths in Jackett's set-up.

Then there’s Brett Pitman, the player who lifted the silverware towards the heavens.

Having been stripped of the captaincy in September and trained with Bournemouth under-21s during a 12-game exile, it's doubtful whether the striker would have even been included in today’s match-day squad.

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As for the bench, it’s fathomable that one or even both substitutes who changed the Sunderland clash may have also been omitted.

The fans’ favourite has been reduced to a bit-part role this term, though, being named in two of the past six league squads.

Oli Hawkins bullied the Black Cats’ rearguard when he was introduced for Bogle.

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Meanwhile, it was his penalty under pressure that sparked the jubilant celebrations after an exhausting battle.

But he's fallen down the pecking order to summer signings Ellis Harrison and John Marquis, while injuries have restricted him to just 12 appearances in all competitions this term.

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