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COOK HOPING FOR CHRISTMAS CHEER

15 December 2016

Boss looks ahead to Hartlepool clash

It was the spirit of Scrooge rather than Santa engulfing the city of Portsmouth last week.

Defeat to Stevenage and a fortnight gap between games meant there was little sense of Christmas cheer.

But victory at Grimsby – courtesy of a late Kal Naismith free-kick – has gone some way to lift the mood.

And Paul Cook hopes Pompey can see off Hartlepool in their final home fixture of 2016 to maintain that festive feeling.

The Blues boss said: “A lot of stuff was said after the Stevenage game – most of it was negative and a lot of it was valid.

“But the atmosphere always changes after a win and the result at Grimsby has given us all a new lease of life. We can certainly look forward with a lot more optimism.

“Everyone goes on about the home form, but for me we’re going into our 21st game looking upwards rather than downwards.

“Hartlepool, like every club in this division, will be difficult opponents. A lot more teams seem to win on the road now because they’re cleverer in how they play.

“At the minute they’re not in a particularly great place after some difficult results, but nothing can be taken for granted.

“It’s Craig Hignett’s first managerial role. I’ve got no doubt that he’s learning a lot about his players and he’ll be better for the experience.

“But everyone’s got a tough job and there are different pressures for different reasons – we’ll just try to concentrate on our own.”

There is more than a week without a game following the Hartlepool clash, but then Pompey have a gruelling schedule of four fixtures in just 10 days.

Cook said: “I’m not really pleased with the Doncaster game on the Thursday night – more for our fans who want to travel than anything else.

“But this league is a war of attrition at times. You just have to get on with it and keep working hard.

“The Hartlepool game is all we’re concentrating on at the moment, though. We’ll get past that and then concentrate on the Christmas fixtures.”

Pompey have no new injury worries, but Curtis Main is still sidelined, while Jack Whatmough is close to a return.

Cook said: “Jack’s back in training, but Saturday will probably be too soon for him, so Tom Davies will be on the bench.”

Watch the manager’s thoughts on the game below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for full pre-match video content.


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