This is how tough Portsmouth boss rates challenge of beating likes of Oxford United, Charlton Athletic and Blackpool to play-off spot

Danny Cowley admitted the challenge of guiding Pompey to the play-offs is the toughest he’s faced in football.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 4:24 pm

The Blues head coach told how the task of overseeing his threadbare options with the stakes so high in the League One play-off chase, is the hardest he’s dealt with in 14 seasons of management.

But Cowley once again underlined a determination to find a way to get his men into the top six, as they go to AFC Wimbledon in Saturday’s critical showdown.

The 42-year-old has switched to wing-backs in the past two games with varying degrees of success.

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A clean sheet was picked up against Bristol Rovers, before three goals were shipped at Accrington in a defensively shoddy performance.

Pompey have looked a threat going forward in both games, however, and bagged three goals for the first time in 21 outings at the Crown Ground.

Now Cowley has to find a formula with the options at his disposal as his side go to the new Plough Lane for the first time - knowing only a win will do.

He said: ‘This is definitely the most challenging that it’s been since I’ve been a manager.

Danny Cowley

‘It is in terms of thinking outside of the box, in a way you wouldn’t normally think and being adaptable with formation.

‘Again it is in terms of personnel and how you use them. That’s the situation and the challenge.

‘When you are in this circumstance, you always just have to check your thinking.

‘Am I closed here and only thinking in a certain way?

‘Can I open my horizons and think more broadly? Can we do anything different?

‘I guess it’s what they call thinking outside the box, and sometimes you have to do that.

‘At the moment, I can’t get 11 square pegs in square holes, so you have to get as many square pegs in square holes as possible. Then they have to support the square pegs in the round holes!’

Cowley stated that Lee Brown is available for selection for the Wimbledon game after missing five games with a hamstring injury, while Jordy Hiwula is back training after a month out with an ankle issue.

But the former Huddersfield boss is still having to deal with options which are close to breaking point in terms of fitness.

He expects the men who are carrying issues or fatigued to continue to put their bodies on the line for the cause, however.

Cowley added: ‘There’s a red zone in terms of loads.

‘There’s a lot of them who will be in that red zone, without a doubt, we know there is with the games which have just come.

‘In some positions we have such little depth or support, but this is what you have to do if you want to be successful - put your body on the line and put the team first.

‘That’s the qualities we like in the players and that’s what we expect from them.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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