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14 January 2016

Boss believes fans will see a top game

Accrington Stanley – who are they?

Fans of a certain age will no doubt remember the milk advert from the 1980s that poured scorn on Pompey’s next opponents.

But Paul Cook is not underestimating the side that he used to play for and manage.

Stanley currently occupy the final play-off berth in League Two and the Blues boss believes they should be even higher.

He said: “They’re possibly the best team in the league – and that’s not me trying to build the game up.

“All the other sides up there have the option of bringing in new players with a bit of finance, but John Coleman doesn’t have that.

“The team they’ve put out on the pitch this season is as strong as any other in this division.

“I thought they would be one of the sides competing for automatic promotion, although all the games they’ve had called off could hinder that.

“I believe that you’re guaranteed a good game on Saturday because there will be two sides who like to play football.

“But whatever other sides do is relevant – our league position at the end of the season will be where we deserve to be.

“We’ve got a lot of lads playing well at the moment, so we’ll just keep going and working hard.”

Accrington have played three league games fewer than Pompey and a spate of postponements means they have not competed on their own patch for two months.

Cook said: “I know their owner has put a hell of a lot of time and money into making sure this game goes ahead.

“Their last home game was against Newport and I was there – it should never have been played!

“The pitch was waterlogged to say the least, so they did extremely well to get that one on.

“The weather up north has been horrific with the floods they’ve had and sometimes there’s simply nothing you can do about it.

“It’s dented Accrington’s promotion hopes, so they’ve suffered as much as anyone and will be desperate to play.”

Pompey will be without Danny Hollands at the Wham Stadium after the midfielder suffered a fractured fibula.

Cook said: “It’s a massive blow because he’s been one of our stand-out performers in recent weeks and was magnificent at Ipswich.

“Danny will be disappointed, but when a door closes for one, it can quickly open for someone else.”

Watch Cook’s thoughts on the game below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for extended interviews with the manager and Gary Roberts.

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