Well, well, well… we’re back again!
That was a looooong 12 weeks, I’m sure we’ve all felt it. But never fear, the 16/17 is back tomorrow and it couldn’t come sooner.
Usually the first preview highlights yet another new look Pompey team but for the first time in 5 years the team hasn’t changed entirely!
However, we still have the excitement of seeing 11 new players in the blue, white and red in the coming weeks.
These have come at a cost, however one I think we didn’t really mind paying- Adam McGurk, Paul Jones, Brian Murphy, Ben Davies and Adam Webster are among those who have departed this summer in order to make room for some significant improvements.
New faces have sparked new excitement yet again in the Fratton Faithful- Pompey have been branded favourites to top the League 2 table yet again… however we all know by now not to bank on it.
Pompey’s opening fixture involves one of the longest journeys in English football, with Carlisle coming down from all that way up north to follow their side on day 1.
United have also made some signings in their quest to improve on their respectable 10th placed finish last term- 4 places and 11 points behind the Blues.
‘We’re much stronger’
We’re back picking Paul Cook’s words to pieces as anticipation for tomorrow’s clash rises.
The Blues boss alongside assistant Leam Richardson and First Team Coach Ian Foster was the first to identify where his side needed improving.
His summer shopping full reflects this.
And now, on the eve of the season, Cookie has claimed that the team now is noticeably stronger than the one he started with last season.
Although keeping the faith with players like Bennett, Roberts, Burgess and Doyle, it was clear Pompey needed improving in certain areas.
It was therefore no surprise when players like goalkeeper David Forde, winger Milan Lalkovic and strikers Curtis Main and Noel Hunt were brought in this transfer window.
As a result, the management believes the team is better and stronger before, with high hopes that Pompey’s last season faults have been rectified.
Although, as Cookie and his henchman have pointed out, we still can’t expect instant success- it still takes new faces to gel.
However with the likes of Forde, Hunt, Talbot and Baker being brought in, the idea that experience will aid our promotion push may see the team settle quickly.
Pompey Team News:
This summer, Pompey have brought in:
Matt Clarke (permanent following loan)
Michael Smith (permanent following loan)
Tomorrow we could see any of these new faces, most likely Baker, Forde, Smith and Talbot.
The only players in the squad we know not to expect tomorrow are Matt Clarke (groin), Ben Close (hamstring) and Brandon Haunstrup (shoulder).
It’s unlikely we shall see Jack Whatmough, Gareth Evans and Danny Hollands however, with the trio back into training later than their team mates following injury.
Player to watch: Carl Baker
It’s hard to pick one player out of the host of new faces, but Baker seems to have a special feel about him, similar to the feel Gary Roberts had this time last year.
So we’re told, we should expect the same never-ending fitness of Baker like we saw in Ben Davies last term.
The midfielder has dropped from MK Dons, where only two seasons ago he was linking up with England starlet Dele Alli!
Yet we shouldn’t read too much into the drop if his pre-season performances are much to go by- full of energy, power and skill, Baker looks a perfect for Pompey. Let’s not ignore his beauty of a strike against Havant either…
Carlisle United Team News:
Carlisle have brought in wingers Jamie Devitt and Nicky Adams in their attempts to improve their creative abilities.
Both are likely to feature tomorrow afternoon, however it is unlikely they will line up next to Shaun Brisley or Jabo Ibehre as they strive for fitness following their respective ankle and knee injuries.
Player to watch: Shaun Miller
Morecambe let striker Miller go when Carlisle came a-knocking this summer- a man who impressed up front for the Shrimps last season, bagging 15 goals in 37 appearances, making him Morecambe’s top goalscorer for the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Pompey took 4 points off Carlisle last time. It could easily have been 6 if it wasn’t for a wonder last minute equaliser at Brunton Park for the Cumbrians.
History shows a positive record for Pompey at home vs Carlisle- 13 wins to United’s 3, as well as 3 draws.
At home seems to be where Pompey excels against Carlisle, with the 13 wins at Fratton making up the majority of their 16 wins in total.
Last season, now permanent striker Michael Smith, scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Blues.
It’s gonna be a gooden I reckon. A little bit of team chemistry lacking, allowing the away goal, but I’m sure that this Pompey team will pull through victors.
I think we’ve made some good signings and they’ll help to ensure Pompey get over the finishing line better than last season.
Next Fixtures: Coventry AWAY
Pompey travel to League One Coventry for the first round of League Cup.
WIN OR LOSE
UP THE BLUES