Gaffer: James Vaughan must start against Sunderland – with Oli Hawkins Portsmouth’s super sub
Gaffer for a Day, Ashley Ladd, aged 31 from Gateshead, previews Pompey’s trip to Sunderland.
All three of our remaining games are must wins, we cannot rely on anyone else, particularly Barnsley.
I live in the north-east and Sunderland are obsessed with everybody else! Also, their weakest part is the defence.
The pressure is on the Black Cats and I think it will affect them. We’ve already beaten them through better second-half displays at Fratton Park and then the Checkatrade Trophy.
If they lose this one then Jack Ross’ side won’t get out of the play-offs, it will hit them hard.
Funnily enough, 90 per cent of the under-8s team I coach are Sunderland fans and recently I bumped in Max Power, whose son was playing grassroots.
He admitted Oli Hawkins is their biggest problem, they don’t how to handle him. At Wembley he came on as substitute and brought Brett Pitman, Jamal Lowe and Gareth Evans into the game, whereas Oli Bogle wasn’t doing that.
However, I would flip it on Saturday. They will be expecting Hawkins to start, so let’s put him on the bench, with James Vaughan instead in the team.
Then, once the game drags on and people are a bit more tired, bring Hawkins into it to affect the physical side of things – and they will panic.
Don’t get me wrong, Hawkins has done absolutely nothing wrong in the last few games, but he can have a really good impact as a substitute.
My other change would be to bring Ronan Curtis into the side for Gareth Evans.
Curtis is looking hungry to play, set up goals in two recent matches and, on Wednesday night, was named as Pompey’s Young Player of the Season, to provide a boost.
I don’t know whether he has been burn out by the large amount of games he has played during the past year, but he’s still a very good player desperate to do well.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray, Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown, Close, Naylor, Lowe, Pitman, Curtis, Vaughan.