Roberts: Festive change in the air for Pompey

Gary Roberts is convinced Pompey are handily placed for a Christmas charge into the top three.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:37 pm
Pompey midfielder Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues head into the weekend visit of Hartlepool still five points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.

But it is the subsequent busy festive period when Roberts anticipates a changing of the guard at League Two’s summit.

Boxing Day signifies a run of four games in 11 days for Pompey, representing the potential for plenty of positional change among the challengers.

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Last weekend saw Plymouth return to the top of the league and Carlisle move up into second.

And with Newport, Yeovil, Luton and Doncaster on the horizon for Paul Cook’s men, Roberts anticipates many more alterations within the promotion spots.

He said: ‘We are approaching a period which sees three games in a week – suddenly you could be second in the league or whatever.

‘It can change so quickly in this division.

‘I think we are in striking distance, definitely not too far away from it, and we need to look after ourselves.

‘Without shouting and screaming, we are in an alright position at the minute, fourth in the league, not looking behind us, we are looking in front.

‘We are looking at catching those ahead with a lot of games to go, and if you have a good Christmas you can be right in there.

‘We have a fully-fit squad and are coming up to January with perhaps one or two players coming in to make us even stronger.

‘There has been a bit of a blip, but no-one will remember Stevenage if we get promoted at the season’s end.

‘We have some tricky games over Christmas, some big matches, but a few good wins and it looks more rosy.’

Last weekend saw the Blues close the gap on the top three with an encouraging victory at Grimsby.

It was the perfect reaction to the disappointing defeat to Stevenage in the previous League Two fixture.

Elsewhere, Plymouth bounced back from three successive league defeats to beat promotion rivals Doncaster 2-0.

Meanwhile, Carlisle climbed into second spot following a 1-1 draw at Luton.

Of Pompey’s four fixtures over the festive period, only one is at Fratton Park.

That is against Luton – a team they saw off 3-1 at Kenilworth Road last month – on Monday, January 2.

Boxing Day is a trip to bottom club Newport County, with a visit to 10th-placed Yeovil on Friday, December 30.

Completing the period is the televised clash at Doncaster (Thursday, January 5).

Roberts added: ‘By late February you really know who is going to be where.

‘There is normally one team which goes off and the rest are fighting for the other two spots. But you just have to be there or thereabouts.’