Portsmouth vs Southend United...
The games keep coming thick and fast for Blues as Southend travel to Fratton Park tomorrow afternoon to take on the Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth.
Chris Powell’s side face a tough task against Pompey, who sit four points clear at the top of the table, but they’ll have been buoyed by Wednesday night’s penalty shoot-out win at Luton.
Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth side are in tremendous form at the moment, having won all of their last seven matches, and they’re currently unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions.
That recent run has seen them make the last 16 of the Checkatrade Trophy, the third round of the Emirates FA Cup and taken them above Sunderland to the top of League One.
Southend United: DLWLWL
17th February 2018: Southend United (Clarke OG, Demetriou 2) 3 vs 1 (Evans) Portsmouth
18th November 2017: Portsmouth (Pitman) 1 vs 0 Southend United
24th January 2015: Portsmouth (Webster) 1 vs 2 (Leonard, Pigott) Southend United
Simon Cox will be pushing for a return having missed the game against Luton. The striker picked up a knock against Barnsley and wasn’t risked on Wednesday and he’ll be hopeful of a place in the squad.
Despite Blues’ extensive injury-list, Powell has a selection headache across his midfield with Luke Hyam pushing for a second straight start as he continues to return to full fitness.
Southend though will continue to be without Jason Demetriou, Harry Kyprianou, Harry Lennon, Ben Coker, Sam Barratt and Tom Hopper all with long-term injuries.
Portsmouth have been boosted by a couple of returning players this week, with Joe Mason recovering from a groin injury to feature in their midweek Checkatrade win.
Another returnee will be midfielder Tom Naylor who too has been out with a groin problem, with David Wheeler and Dion Donohue Pompey’s only absentees.
Chris Powell, Southend United Manager:
“We know they are league leaders, they have good players at this level in key areas, but we’ve got to be up for it and ready for the battle.
"We’ve faced Barnsley and Luton this week and we end it with a trip to the league leaders which is always a tough place to go with their fans, regardless of what's going on they will ring their bells and sing their songs and we’ve got to be ready to stand up for ourselves and be brave enough to play our football in the right areas.
“We need to be better in the final third, because we build up well but it's just that final bit that lets us down, so if we can do that then we have a real chance, because we know our chances will be at a premium, it will be tough, but I know we can summon up some energy because Barnsley and Luton have been real tests for us physically, but we will go there and do our absolute best to come home with a victory.”
Kenny Jackett, Portsmouth Manager:
“They have not scored too many goals and not conceded too many either, so they’ve been quite consistent in that sense.
“I think they’re more than good enough to compete in this division and have a strong squad – now their challenge is to transform into a top six side.
“It’s a different type of challenge for us, but it’s the most important game of the season because it’s our next one.”