Pompey return to Fratton Park for a fixture for the first time since New Year and will be looking to grab 3 crucial points against bottom side Hartlepool. The Blues have had their last 2 games called off due to the fierce rain and over this period of time have waved goodbye to many players and said hello to some new ones. Pompey’s stricken squad lie second from bottom, 5 points from safety with a 10 point deduction still looming over the club so a win is vital against United who have won only twice in their 27 league games. Anything but a win for Whittingham’s men this afternoon will cause real worry around the south-coast.
Vital Quotes: ‘Come and get me’
These are the sensational words of Pompey legend Sevetoslav Todorov. Toddy has shocked everyone by admitting he is willing to tear up his contract at Ukranian Premier League side Hoverla Uzhhorod to rejoin the Blues. The 34-year-old’s agent has also come out and said ‘Basically, if Pompey want it to happen- it will happen.’ So what are Pompey waiting for? The Bulgarian scored 33 goals in 54 starts for Pompey and 26 came in a sensational season that saw him top it off with the winning goal to send Pompey into the Premier League in the 2002-2003 season. He is now playing his trade against some top sides like Champions League teams Shaktar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev so is confident he can make a good impact in the Blues quest for survival from a 3rd relegation in 4 years.
Pompey Team News:
Pompey have said goodbye to 8 players since their last game on the 4th of January and 6 players have come in. Howard, Dumbuya, Harley, Michalik, Williamson, Benson and Mendez-Laing have all left the club to cut costs, go to other teams and to return form loans. However, Pompey have acted on this and brought in defenders: Sam Sodje, Shaun Cooper and Yassin Moutaouakil, midfielders: Frankie Sutherland and Adam Reed and striker James Keene. All of which are likely to feature today. 18-year-old Dan Butler has also been recalled from a loan spell at Havant and Waterlooville, a place where he shone as a hot prospect for the future. Defending duo Ricardo Rocha and Gabor Gyepes have both returned from hamstring injuries and are set to start together at the back once more.
Player to watch: James Keene
Keene is at Fratton Park for a second time after being brought on-loan from IF Elfsporg and will have a point to prove after failing to shine first time round. The Englishman only made 2 appearances for the Blues before being offloaded last time round but will be looking to impress after playing at some top sides in Sweden and Norway over the last few years scoring 41 goals in 169 appearances.
Hartlepool United Team News:
Hartlepool travel with striker Steve Howard, midfielder Antony Sweeney and defender Jordon Richards all doubts for today’s clash. Howard is fighting a hamstring problem whilst Sweeney and Richards battle with knee knocks. On-loan Middlesborough duo Pool and Wyke are both expected to return from injuries they sustained in the defeat to Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
Player to watch: Evan Horwood
Horwood has been the stand out playmaker for Pool this season after getting 8 assists so far from defence. Pool have a poor scoring record but Horwood will be looking to do all he can to create something against a stuttering Pompey defence.
Match Facts & Stats
Pompey and United have only ever met 4 times, each game played in Division 4 of the time in 1978 and 1979. Out of these four meetings, Pompey have lost… none. 3 wins and a draw against Pool is the current statistic and this stat is hopefully going to be improved this afternoon. This stat isn’t going to indicate which way the game will go, nor will League position so a fiery encounter could be in store today.
3-1 Pompey. A win has to be the result for the Blues this afternoon to revive hopes of relegation survival and where else to start than the bottom side? 3-1 Pompey with 2 goals from striker James Keene on his Pompey return.
Next Fixtures: Pompey vs Notts County
County travel to Fratton in 3 days time for the third meeting of the teams this season. Notts have won both fixtures this season and a third is not off the cards as they sit comfortably in 12th with a handy 40 points to their name as they push for promotion.