What Fratton favourite Conor Chaplin has said ahead of his latest Portsmouth return with new-club Ipswich

Conor Chaplin is hoping for a change in fortunes when he makes his latest Fratton Park return.

Conor Chaplin before Barnsley's FA Cup game against Pompey at Fratton Park in January 2020
Conor Chaplin before Barnsley's FA Cup game against Pompey at Fratton Park in January 2020

The former Pompey striker will be back at his old stomping ground tonight in the colours of Ipswich as Paul Cook brings his big-spending side to PO4 for an eagerly-anticipated League One clash.

It will be the 24-year-old’s third time back at a club he still holds dear to his heart following his 2018 departure.

Chaplin is excited at the prospect and can’t wait to taste another electric atmosphere under the lights at Fratton Park.

He admits there’s quite like it in football.

But on his two previous visits – with Coventry and Barnsley respectively – the diminutive front man failed to taste victory.

The Blues academy product is hoping that changes tonight, though – even if it makes the ‘special’ fans who used to cheer him on unhappy.

‘This will be my third time back at Pompey since I left the club three years ago and in my two visits so far I haven’t managed to get a win,’ twtd.co.uk quote Chaplin as saying.

‘I’m hoping it’s going to be a case of third time lucky.

‘I love going back and feel completely comfortable with it.

‘I played a lot of games in that stadium so it’s somewhere that means a lot to me.

‘There are a lot of good memories and their fans are special, among the very best for creating an atmosphere and I can’t wait for it, especially since it will be under the lights.

Portsmouth is a football city and the supporters are very passionate about the game and particularly their club.

‘It’s what brings everyone together in the city and the fans are extremely proud of their club. Whether the supporters are for you or against you it’s always a great atmosphere.

‘As the away team we should relish the fixture and the occasion.

‘We’ve got to take it in our stride and enjoy it.

‘Any player who has been down there to play will tell you the same because there’s nowhere quite like it.’

Chaplin spent 15 years at Pompey after being spotted as a six-year-old playing in a Worthing Dynamos open day in Durrington, West Sussex.

He would go on and make 122 appearances and score 25 goals before heading to Coventry, initially on loan, in 2018.

The Worthing-born ace said he was living his dream before exiting in search of regular playing time.

He added: ‘(Jermain) Defoe was my hero back then at the time I was playing games at the training ground and that’s what sticks out in my mind.

‘I was only six when I joined the club and then nine when I joined the academy proper.

‘I remember Gary O’Neil was the first team player who was there for us to have our picture taken with and sign autographs.

‘I can see my own picture in my head right now and it’s in the family photo album. I’m not saying I could lay my hands on it straight away but I know I still have it somewhere.

‘I went all the way through to the first team at Portsmouth, which was the dream of each and every one of us who signed for the club.

‘Making my debut for the club I had grown up playing for made it that bit special. I think, because I had put in the hours and worked really hard for my big chance.

‘When it came it literally was a case of my dream coming true.

‘Making your professional debut is an incredible feeling, the culmination of a lot of years of my parents driving me here, there and everywhere for games.’