Boss looks ahead to Hartlepool test
Victory at AFC Wimbledon earlier in the week guaranteed Pompey a place in League Two’s top seven.
But Paul Cook has insisted that there will be no let-up at Hartlepool this weekend.
While automatic promotion looks unlikely with just two games of the season remaining, it is still achievable.
And Cook wants to see his side try to make sure that remains the case come 5pm on Saturday.
The Blues boss said: “I still believe we can go up automatically – while it’s still mathematically possible you have to.
“We’ll be going full tilt at Hartlepool and doing all that we possibly can to win the game.
“If we’re not one of the sides that finishes in the top three then we’ll congratulate who is there and get on with play-offs.
“I haven’t seen a lot of Hartlepool this season – I think people can work out why. The geography isn’t great!
“Craig Hignett came in as manager and they’ve had some great results to escape the relegation fight they were in.
“But it’s a game we feel that we have to win and it would be great on Saturday night if we’ve taken the promotion race to the last game.
“I know that funny things can happen in football and if you keep people under pressure, then you never know.”
Conor Chaplin and Jack Whatmough have returned to fitness for Pompey, but Paul Jones is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a thigh tear against the Dons.
Cook said: “He joins that injury list which seems to be growing, but that’s just the way it is.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses because every club has injuries – it’s just that unfortunately ours are coming at a poor time.
“But the lads who played on Tuesday night – and you have to pick Adam Barton as the exemplary one – were excellent.
“To get success you need to have a squad that are committed – and we certainly believe we’ve got that.”
Michael Smith’s loan spell ends after Saturday’s game and Cook believes the striker will be missed.
He said: “He’s been excellent. He’s got ability and will be a big loss for us because he’s a really good player and has done a great job.”
Watch Cook's thoughts on the game below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for extended interviews with the manager and Barton.