PORTSMOUTH away has got to be the biggest fixture for most clubs in League Two and I’m glad to say I’ll be back with the first team squad at Fratton Park today having finally shaken off a hamstring injury.
It’s been a frustrating first month of the season for me but I’ve been back training with the lads this week and I hope to be involved today at a ground where I scored both goals in our 2-0 win last season.
That was a great day for me and for the club but Pompey will be a different prospect today.
We all expected them to be one of the teams challenging for promotion last year and for various reasons that didn’t happen.
But since they appointed Andy Awford as manager they have been on a great run and they go into this match second in the table and unbeaten in the league so far.
We’re obviously still looking for our first win but the draw at home to Burton last Saturday was certainly a step in the right direction and it’s given us something to build on.
It will be an intimidating atmosphere this afternoon because Portsmouth always attract a big crowd and hopefully we’ll have a fair few fans cheering us on as well.
On days like today it’s all about handling the big-game atmosphere and I’m confident that we have the players in this squad to do that and get us a result.
There has been a lot of talk about the manager being ruthless having dropped Andy Sandell and Ismail Yakubu last week and bringing in Joe Day for Lenny Pidgeley today.
I don’t buy into that. Lee Minshull and I were dropped after the opening game and we all know that nobody is bigger than the club.
We know that if you don’t perform you’ll be dropped and if the manager makes a decision us players just have to accept it and work hard to get back into the team.
It’s tough on Lenny but I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing Joe good luck.
We all want to wish Rene Howe all the best as well after he suffered a bad injury last week.
It’s such a shame for Rene because he’s looked in great shape and it’s yet another example of our incredible bad luck with injuries.
I reckon the gaffer and Jimmy Dack must have run over a load of black cats on the M4 going back and fore to Essex!
But he’ll be well looked after and it does give the likes of Shaun Jeffers, Christian Jolley and Joe Parker, who are all champing at the bit, the chance to show what they can do.
As I’m back fit and with the first team it means I won’t be with the under-18s this lunchtime.
The boys take on Portsmouth at Llanwern School in the Football League Youth Alliance South West division at midday and they’d be very grateful of your support.
We’ve had a disappointing week with a 4-2 defeat in the league at Exeter last Saturday and a 4-3 loss in the cup at Cheltenham in midweek.
Like the first team it was individual errors at the back that cost us in those games and if we can cut them out I’m sure the boys can get back to winning ways today.
I took some of them running up Vicarage Hill in Newport this week as an extra fitness test and I was impressed with their professional approach.
I joined in as well and if my hamstrings can survive that they can survive anything so I’m ready for action today.
Finally, a message to a certain Spurs fan at the Argus – enjoy the Europa League while the mighty Liverpool are playing Real Madrid in the Champions League.
And stay off Twitter after we beat you in the Premier League tomorrow Michael!