Date: 20th March 2009 at 4:00pm
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Ahead of he crucial, aren’t they all, meeting with Everton at the weekend Pompey have been handed a blow with the news that the so far impressive loanee Jermaine Pennant has been ruled out through injury…

The winger had to limp out of the game with Boro last weekend after only 30-odd minutes, and it did not look good then.

We will certainly miss him as has been fairly lively on the whole and has certainly offered a threat with his willingness to get onto the ball and run with it. He has also worked well with Glen Johnson and offered him protection defensively, something that not everyone might associate with the wingers game, so this is another setback in that regard!

With him out it is a no brainer, it has to be Dave Nugent switching back to the right hand side to cover for him…

We cannot of course turn to John Utaka as he almost certainly will not put in a shift – I would love us to be able to but we just cannot afford to be putting him out of the right for him not to do his defensive duties, some might argue offensive duties too! Nadir Belhadj has shown that the right sided role is not really for him as he looks to come inside far too much and is much less effective going forward on his right hand side, so it has to mean putting Nugent back out on the right – where he has done a fine job when asked to be fair – and then we bring Belhadj in on the left, although Armand Traore could be an option too, but having not even made the bench at the weekend this would seem unlikely?

In an ideal world, well, maybe not ideal world, but my world I would go back to 4-4-2 and put Nugent up top with Peter Crouch, whack Marc Wilson on the right in front of Johnson – as I still see this as a partnership that is more than workable as interchanging is possible and we know that the young Irishman has a peach of a delivery on him – get Sean Davis or Angelos Basinas in alongside Niko Kranjcar in the middle of the park, even though the Croatian might not offer the defensive help that could be needed, and then of course Belhadj or Traore on the left – thank you and good night…

So my ‘ideal 11’ would be this in a 4-4-2

Alas, of course I am not the manager and it is easy to do this from the sidelines. To be honest, although I know we do have to play it safe my thinking is that we are playing it ‘too safe.’

Even so, in all reality it is most likely that we are going to look something more like this…

Whatever, all I know is we cannot afford be beaten, this is a ‘must not lose game’ and as it is a home game becomes an almost ‘must win’. Without Pennant this becomes more tricky, but by no means does this mean we cannot do it!


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