Why Portsmouth are in Leasing.com Trophy action Saturday while rivals battle it out in League One

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Pompey play host to Norwich under-21s this Saturday in the Leasing.com Trophy.

That’s despite their League One rivals continuing their bids to reach the Championship by the season’s end.

But why are Kenny Jackett's troops being made to play in the EFL Trophy on the same day as a full league programme?

Let us explain why?

Go on then, what’s happening?

Well, the simple reason is Pompey were due to play Bury in League One on Saturday at Gigg Lane.

Pompey manager Kenny Jackett  Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey manager Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

However, following the Shakers’ expulsion from the EFL last month, the game was removed from the calendar – as have all fixtures Bury were due to play over the course of the 2019-20 season.

Bury had their 125-year-old membership of the Football League removed because of financial difficulties, while a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk collapsed.

So why not have a free weekend?

The Blues were keen to avoid another blank weekend, after two other match-day cancellations already this season.

The game against Rotherham on Saturday, August 24, had to be postponed due to the city hosting the Victorious Festival the same weekend.

Meanwhile, last weekend’s home game against Southend also fell by the wayside after three Pompey players earned international call-ups for their respective countries.

Manager Kenny Jackett also had injuries to key injuries ahead of the game against the Shrimpers.

Pompey were due to play Norwich’s youngsters at Fratton Park in the Leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday, November 5, but decided to bring it forward to give the players some much-needed game time.

Does that mean Pompey are already playing catch-up with the season only a month old?

We’re afraid so.

As you will know, Jackett’s side haven’t made the best of starts to their League One campaign.

A 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury on the opening day of the season was followed by a 2-0 victory against Tranmere.

But the Blues are winless in the league since then, with a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland being proceeded by consecutive draws against Coventry (3-3) and Blackpool (1-1).

That leaves Pompey sitting 18th in the table on five points - 10 adrift of early pacesetters Wycombe and Coventry.

They sit joint-top of the table on 15 points from their seven games played.

Ipswich (14 points), Fleetwood (13), Lincoln (12) and Blackpool (12) occupy the current play-off places, with only the Tractor Boys having played six games – the the rest have seven games under their belts.

Meanwhile, the likes of Sunderland (eighth) have 11 points from six games, while Peterborough (ninth) have accumulated 10 points from their six fixtures.

Where could Pompey sit in the table after this weekend’s fixtures?

Believe it or not, the Blues could sit in the relegation zone come 5pm on Saturday – but that’s highly unlikely.

Third-from-bottom AFC Wimbledon are on two points but would require a 7-0 win at home to Shrewsbury to overtake Pompey in the table.

Oxford (5 points) and Accrington (5) would) also need to beat Tranmere and Sunderland respectively for the Blues to join Southend and Bolton in the bottom three.

But don’t forget, Pompey will have games in hand on may teams after this weekend.

When do Pompey play those games in hand?

No date has been set for the Rotherham game at Fratton Park.

That is still to be worked out.

The Southend game, though, will take place on November 5 (7.45pm) – the date of the original Leasing.com Trophy meeting with Norwich under-21s.

When are the Blues next in League One action?

Next Tuesday night (September 17) when Burton Albion make the trip to the south coast for a 7.45pm kick-off.

That’s then followed by a trip to Wycombe on Saturday, September 21 (3pm).

What are the remaining Leasing.com Trophy games?

Saturday’s fixture against Norwich will be the Blues’ second in this year's competition.

They beat Crawley 1-0 in their opening Southern Group B game at Fratton Park.

An away trip to Oxford (Tuesday, October 8) follows, before the competition reaches the knockout stages.

The top two teams from each group progress.