Portsmouth face Bolton Wanderers tomorrow in what should be an entertaining game…or not.
What we do know however is that it is a very important game for both sides, as they currently occupy two of the relegation places without a single point on the table.
The Blues and Bolton are expected to field a number of new faces tomorrow, Portsmouth in particular.
Midfielders Jamie O’Hara, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Hassan Yebda are all in line to make their Pompey debuts.
Tal Ben Haim meanwhile, is set to partner Younes Kaboul in the centre of Portsmouth’s defence.
Other signings including Mike Williamson, Danny Webber and Aruna Dindane may have to make do with places on the bench.
However, doubts have been raised over Dindane’s fitness, with manager Paul Hart suggesting it might not be until October that fans see him in action.
Outspoken ‘keeper David James is set to return in goal for Pompey, recovering from injury in time to help Pompey’s cause.
Despite the Herminator’s appearance on the bench in Pompey’s previous encounter, Hreidarsson was unfortunate to pick up another injury while on international duty with Iceland. Marc Wilson, Steve Finnan and Papa Bouba Diop also remain sidelined.
On the other hand, Croat Ivan Klasnic looks set to make his first appearance for Bolton, replacing the injured Johan Elmander, who picked up a calf strain while on international duty midweek.
Midfielder Sean Davis is set to serve his one-match suspension, following his sending off against Liverpool, saving himself from a chorus of boos in the process.
Tomorrow provides the perfect opportunity for Portsmouth to kick-start their season, with Bolton failing to win any of their last 10 league games. Their last victory away from from came in November ’08.
The pundits are expecting a low-scoring game, but with Pompey you can never know. Pompey fans will be hoping to see their side score however, with Portsmouth yet to register a home league goal this season.
Just as Portsmouth have failed to score at home, Bolton have failed to score away this season. Despite these low statistics, Fratton Park is expected to have it’s biggest crowd of the season.
Chief executive officer Peter Storrie has been working his socks off in order to attract more fans to the game. Offers have included ‘kids for a quid’, while the Pompey Study Centre have distributed 1,000 free tickets to local schools.
Pompey’s most recent meeting with the Trotters was only five months ago, with Kanu easing Pompey’s relegation worries by scoring the only goal of a nerve-wracking affair.
At this period in time, I would take a similar result, just as long as Portsmouth got the three points they needed.
Paul Hart has often been criticised for his negative tactics, his unenthusiastic style of speaking and more recently, his late substitutions. However tomorrow is his day, with his newly assembled squad and a chance to prove all his critics wrong.
I commend Hart for taking on the Portsmouth job, I cannot imagine any other manager who would. He seems to have developed a healthy team spirit within the squad, with the players reportedly asking for more training sessions midweek.
There seems to a general feeling similar to that of Millwall: “No one likes us, but we don’t care”.
The players want to prove the critics wrong just as much as the fans. We can do our bit tomorrow by building an intimidating atmosphere and not one that fades into, “ner, ner, ner, ner, ner, clap, clap.”
It’s time to stop thinking negatively and time to think positively.
If we think we’re already down, we will go down. If we have a bit of hope then who knows what the current squad will bring.
Likely Pompey line-up: James, Vanden Borre, Kaboul, Ben Haim, Belhadj, Smith, Boateng, Brown, Mokoena (c), O’Hara, Piquionne.
Kick-off: 1500BST Venue: Fratton Park
Coverage: 93.7 Express FM – listen for my latest updates from Fratton Park between 3pm-5pm. I’ll be there hoping to bring you the latest action, bookings, goals etc!
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