Pompey return to Fratton Park after five weeks (weather permitting-snow is forecast for the morning) to take on struggling Scunthorpe United this Saturday.
It is an important game for both sides with Pompey looking to build on successive away wins at playoff contenders and Scunny desperate to end a five game winless run which has seen them drop into the bottom three.
Regular preview man paultsmouth this week celebrated his 40th birthday and has asked me to write his piece while he is away.
Paul – Happy Birthday from all at Vital Pompey!!
Pompey Team News:
Carl Dickinson returns after a three game ban but will he displace the impressive Joel Ward? However Greg Halford is suspended having picked up five bookings so Dickinson will be lucky.
But it is in midfield that will depend on discussions off the field that will decide whether Richard Hughes and Michael Brown feature. With them both out resources will be stretched to the limit.
Player to watch: Dave Kitson
After breaking his goalless spell last week Dave will look to get back to regular scoring habits. His partnership with David Nugent is beginning to flourish.
Scunthorpe United Team News:
The Scunny squad has been hit by a mystery virus this week. They also have a number of injuries to players. Scunthorpe manager Ian Baraclough told us “We have had one or two key players who we have had to send home from training this week.
“But we are travelling down to Portsmouth today (Friday) and will have some decisions to make after we have trained there.”
Baraclough won’t reveal who are the players worst affected as he focuses his attention to curing the ailments on the field.
Player to watch: Michael O’Connor
Young Northern Ireland midfield star O’Connor joined from Crewe last year and is impressing all with his form. Rumours persist that Premier League clubs are lining up bids but Scunthorpe manager Ian Baraclough told the BBC ‘I am unaware of any interest but he’s done himself no harm.
‘If a young player like Michael puts performance after performance together he’s going to get some interest.’
Michael has already netted five times this season.
Match Facts & Stats
This will be Scunny’s first league visit to Fratton in over thirty years. On that day in August 1979 they were thrashed 6-1 in front of over 12,000 in a Fourth Divison game. The overall record between the clubs stretching back to 1959 show that Scunthorpe have the better record in the twelve games played.
The Iron did in fact more recently come to town for an FA Cup fourth round tie in 2004. Two goals by Super Matt Taylor sealed a narrow 2-1 victory.
Graham Salisbury from Lancashire will make his first visit to the home of South Coast football. In fifteen games this season he has issued just two red cards and fifty three yellow. He will be assisted by C J Berry and S J D Daly with the Fourth Official A A Laver.
It won’t be 6-1 again – will it?
Millwall at Fratton Park on Boxing Day – tickets are going fast and remember the kick off is 1pm!