Portsmouth will have ground to make up in the second leg of the playoff semifinals as they trail Sunderland by one goal. They had a hard time at the Stadium of Light as they failed to test Jon McLaughlin enough and the Black Cats just about deserved their narrow advantage from the first leg.
Kenny Jackett will be hoping that his players and the home crowd can deliver in this all-important clash. On the upcoming game, the Pompey boss said (Sunderland Echo), ”Fair play to Sunderland, they defended well in the wide areas, and our delivery into the box wasn’t necessarily there. We maybe didn’t have the explosiveness we usually have. It was difficult for us going forward, but we competed and battled well. It was a good quality strike from Maguire that’s got their noses in front, but it’s evenly balanced for Thursday night.”
Sunderland and Portsmouth have played in some close encounters this season, and they had to be separated by the penalty shoot-out in the Checkatrade trophy final. Therefore one can expect another evenly matched contest at Fratton Park this time around.
Lee Brown and Brett Pitman are the major injury concerns for the home side. Jackett gave an update on the duo and said, ”Lee Brown failed a fitness test this morning with an Achilles injury, Brett Pitman has an Achilles injury that he’s been nursing for a little bit. Hopefully, he’s on the road to recovery. Neither has been ruled out, and they should both have a chance for the second leg, although what type of chance, I don’t know. I’ll make a decision on it by Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Portsmouth predicted Lineup Vs Sunderland
Craig MacGillivray is a nailed on starter in between the sticks. He should be shielded by the centre back pairing of Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess. Nathan Thompson should be in the right-back role. Makeshift left-back Anton Walkes should complete the back four.
Last summer’s signing Tom Naylor is set to operate in the middle of the park alongside Ben Close. The experienced Pitman is likely to miss out, and Gareth Evans is expected to start as an attacking midfielder. Pompey’s Young Player of the Season Ronan Curtis is set to start down the left flank. Jamal Lowe will be occupying the right wing spot. A lot of the onus will be on the two wide men to bring Portsmouth back in the tie.
Oliver Hawkins is likely to get the nod ahead of Omar Bogle to start up front.
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