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COOK: I'M SO EXCITED

5 August 2016

Boss looking forward to Carlisle clash

It is a level of anticipation akin to a child on Christmas Eve.

But the opening day of the football season is almost upon us, with Carlisle visiting the south coast on Saturday.

Promotion is once more the aim for Pompey following their play-off heartache at the end of last term.

And Paul Cook is looking forward to seeing the Fratton faithful turn out in their thousands to get behind his team.

The Blues boss said: “No matter where you’re from or what team you support, the start of the season is always exciting.

“It’s been a long, tough summer – especially after what happened at Plymouth. But we’ve picked ourselves up and re-energised the squad.

“And the supporters have certainly played their part with the number of season ticket sales.

“Our fans never disappoint us. They’ve always felt an obligation to stand by their club and they do that continually.

“Now it’s about getting on with the season and I would just remind everyone that it’s a long campaign ahead.

“There will be highs and lows. We don’t know when they’ll be, but how we manage them is the most important thing. Our challenge is to do better than we did last season.”

Pompey start the campaign as favourites to win League Two for a fourth successive year, with Sky Bet pricing them at just 4/1.

“I don’t think it was fair three years ago,” said Cook. “That was more about the club’s name rather than anything else.

“But as each year’s gone by I think the mantle is more fitting and I think we have a chance, although I could also argue the case for a number of other teams in this division. Only time will tell.”

Cook moved to strengthen his resources further prior to the opening game by bringing in defender Adam Buxton and striker Noel Hunt.

He said: “Adam played for a team (Accrington) that finished above us last season and is a very versatile defender who I feel can flourish here.

“He’s got a lot of talent to add to our squad and now it’s up to him to break into the team.

“We’re delighted to sign Noel because he brings a wealth of quality to this club – off the pitch as well as on it.

“His professionalism is second to none and he’s a great character who’s very popular among the players.”

Attempting to fill the role of party-poopers on Saturday will be a Carlisle side who finished 10th in the table last term.

Cook said: “Keith Curle has done a fantastic job there and has had time to assemble his squad.

“They seem to have a similar philosophy to ours in terms of getting the ball down and passing it.

“They’ve brought in some top players like Nicky Adams and Jamie Devitt, so we certainly know they’re capable of hurting us.

“But we have to concentrate on our ability to hurt them and I think it’s got the potential to be a very good game.”

Two of Pompey’s young players have gone out on loan for a month to gain experience, with Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Salisbury and Dory Yates moving to Dorchester.

Watch Cook’s thoughts on the Carlisle clash below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for the full interview.


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