Joe Gallen: 60 games up – but south-coast sun has energised Portsmouth players
Joe Gallen has shrugged off fitness consequences of Pompey’s gruelling 60-plus game campaign.
And he believes the south-coast sunshine has actually left the re-energised Blues able to play more football.
Saturday’s visit of Accrington marks the 60th fixture of an exhausting campaign.
Once the second leg of the forthcoming League One play-offs has been completed, it would represent 62 fixtures in a season – the most in the Blues’ Football League history.
That tally takes into account an additional 14 cup matches, with eight arriving during their Checkatrade Trophy success.
But Pompey’s assistant manager is adamant the schedule has had no impact on players’ energy levels.
Gallen said: ‘The first thing to say is playing 60 times shows we have been successful in cup competitions – and it’s a large amount of games.
‘In the winter, football can get quite tough, with the matches, weather, travelling, etc.
‘But as soon as April comes with the sun shining, the game total becomes irrelevant.
‘People make out that there’s so many matches and everyone must be fatigued, but not when it’s April and not when the sun is out. Not when it gets warmer.
‘There is no-one feeling like that here, we are pretty much excited.
‘There’s a big game on Saturday and we potentially have three big games to go after that, massive games, massive atmospheres. That’s pretty exciting.
‘Undoubtedly it’s a lot of games and in the winter it can feel quite hard going for everyone.
‘The way I feel, and I’m also picking it up from the players, once you get to this stage you can actually keep going, it’s strange.
‘The pitches have nice surfaces to play on, the sun is shining, players seem to enjoy the training even more than when it is boring and cold – we could actually keep going.
‘But in the winter, I feel we could do with a break.’
In addition to what will be 46 League One matches, there have been eight Checkatrade Trophy games, five in the FA Cup and one Carabao Cup tie.
And the play-offs will ensure the Blues eclipse the club record of 61 established under Jim Smith in 1993-94.
Gallen added: ‘When you get to know you are in the play-offs, you know what the timetable is, and that’s quite a nice feeling.
‘All the uncertainty is over. It’s the play-offs – and after this is the guarantee of at least two big games to go.’