Ismail Yakubu returns to ease Exiles defensive worries
CAPTAIN Ismail Yakubu is set to return to the heart of the defence today as Newport County AFC head for the bear pit of Fratton Park.
More than 1,000 Exiles fans are expected to make the journey to Portsmouth where a crowd of up to 18,000 will create a hostile atmosphere.
And the news that defensive rock Yakubu has shaken off his hip injury will be welcomed by the travelling Amber Army.
Before his injury, picked up in the 0-0 draw at leaders Oxford United, County had kept five clean sheets on the bounce.
Without Yakubu, Justin Edinburgh’s men have conceded nine goals in three games and been knocked out of the FA Cup and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
“We had a good run and I was fortunate to be a part of that but me being in the team has nothing to do with us conceding goals,” said the modest 28-year-old.
“These things happen and it’s just one of those things. I don’t take any pleasure in that.
“I’m sure we will get back to that form. Not everybody plays ten out of ten every weekend but we’ve just got to get back on track.
“This is a very tough league, a very tight league so you’ve got to make yourself hard to break down.
“Nobody has really hit championship form yet so keeping things tight is important.
“I’ve been training for the last couple of days and it feels a lot better than before so hopefully I’ll be fit to play,” he added.
“I was really enjoying my football a couple of weeks ago and this injury has obviously slowed me down but hopefully I’ll be able to continue that form.
“It can be annoying but you’ve just got to stay focused, not get too frustrated, and just concentrate on getting back into the team.”
County may be only three points off top spot in League Two but Yakubu is convinced that the team can improve in the second half of the season.
“I think we’re doing OK but we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves and think that we’ve won anything,” he said.
“It’s barely even the middle of the season and you don’t win anything in December. It’s all about consistency and keeping going until May.
“There is more to come from this team, definitely.
“We’ve proven that we can compete in this league and now it’s down to us to kick on.”
Three points this afternoon would be a good place to start but Yakubu is expecting a real battle.
“They’ve got a new manager with a lot to prove and the players have got a lot to prove to him,” he said.
“And it will be a big crowd so it will be a difficult test for us.
“They’re going to be like rabid dogs on our tails and we’re going to have to be on our toes and match them.”
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