Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday February 20 2009
21st February 2008
The Potters play their first home game of the month on Saturday after having to also wait two weeks for a chance to make amends for the defeat at Sunderland. Pompey arrive at Fortress Britannia with a caretaker manager and without a League win in seven attempts until last week's 2-0 victory over Manchester City.
There's no doubt that the main concern for both fans and manager alike is for the team to manage 90 minutes without a red card. Consecutive games have seen Delap and Etherington walk for kicking out at opponents and it's dispiriting when you think that we could have picked up at least a point at Sunderland for the sake of some discipline on the pitch.
Certainly that's something that Tony Pulis has hoped he's drummed that into the squad: 'We have to be more careful. We cannot afford to have anyone else suspended.
'We've talked about discipline, giving away silly free-kicks and picking up needless bookings, we have to improve.'
The big news is that Mamady Sidibe is expected to make a return from injury for the first time this year and may partner James Beattie up front in the wake of Fuller's dislocated shoulder two weeks ago. The absence of Delap and Etherington may finally give Liam Lawrence his long awaited start. Danny Higginbotham is another that may be back in contention after a calf injury has sidelined him since the Spurs match last month. Loanee Stephen Kelly is a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury in training.
If Big Mama starts, it would be the third partner up front for James Beattie. It's always easy to raise expectations too high, but so many times Sidibe has been the difference and this season he has been an absolute goal machine compared to last season with four strikes before his enforced lay-off back in December.
Herman Hreidarsson (virus) is expected to be fit but Richard Hughes, Papa Diop and Armand Traore are injured. Portsmouth are a shadow of the team that we played earlier this season and have seen the backs of two managers with Redknapp leaving and Adams finally sacked as they tumbled down the League. They've now got Paul Hart in temporary charge but must never be underestimated.
Stoke fans who made the long trip to Portsmouth back in October were treated to close-up of a stunning overhead kick that sent Pompey on the way to their 2-1 win and the lanky England international will not be worried about our tall players.
You have to go back way back to 1952 to find the last time we beat Pompey in the top division with a 2-0 victory at the Victoria Ground.
Mike Jones was the one who sent off Ricardo Fuller for slapping Andy Griffin at Upton Park back in December.
Sunday 1st March: Aston Villa (away) kick-off: 3pm
Wednesday 4th March: Bolton (home) kick-off: 7.45pm
Sunday 15th March: Everton (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday February 20 2009
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