Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett believes his misfiring side can still catch runaway leaders Luton Town in the League One promotion chase.
The Hatters have equalled a club record nineteen game unbeaten run on their climb to the top of League One and in the process opened up a nine-point gap over Jackett’s men. After a blistering start to the season that saw them top the table for four months, Pompey have faltered of late, failing to win any of their last five games, a run that has seen them drop out of the automatic promotion places.
Jackett is desperate for this poor run of form to end and has promised to shuffle his pack to try and get their campaign back on track. Pompey lost four loan players in January including the influential Ben Thompson who was recalled by parent club Millwall. The defence has also recently been hit by a long term injury to Jack Whatmough. They have failed to keep a clean sheet since before Christmas.
Six signings were made to strengthen and replace the departing loanees in January, but the South Coast club is still looking to capture the rhythm that saw them top the table by five points at the turn of the year.
Despite their poor from Jacket felt an upturn in results and the building of momentum could see his men catch the Hatters. Speaking to the Portsmouth News ahead of Saturday’s match he said ‘It’s still open, definitely and it’s about us getting our own form sorted out.”
“This is a club that can get momentum, definitely and is a club capable of momentum at the end of the season.”
“It’s only our performances which will bring that momentum and with the passionate crowd if they feel it, and they will only feel it with results and performances of quality.”
“The crowd will respond to what is on the pitch – so it’s our job to lead and after that we have the crowd build the momentum to help us is with the run-in.”
The Southend game marks a potential season-defining run of five fixtures in fifteen days which includes The EFL Trophy semi-final at League Two Bury and the visit of second place Barnsley to Fratton Park.
Jackett insisted his squad was ready for the challenge, ‘If we can get some momentum in this next period, get a good amount of points and win a very difficult semi-final, it could really set us up for a great run-in.”
‘So when they come thick and fast in a short space of time you can make a big difference.”
‘We have to see that as an opportunity and see it as a challenge – because it’s a good challenge.”
Jackett is coming under pressure. Portsmouth is a big club, and their supporters will want to be playing Championship football next season.
He has vowed to change the side to start winning again but games and time are running out. It is Barnsley who now has the momentum, and their clash at Fratton Park next Saturday is mouthwatering.
Pompey must win at Southend to restore confidence before this massive League One promotion clash next week.