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24 March 2016

Boss looks ahead to Notts County test

Pompey players will have to learn how to deal with pressure if they want to win promotion.

That is the verdict of Paul Cook ahead of their Good Friday clash with Notts County at Fratton Park.

The Blues boss was critical of his side following last weekend’s draw at Mansfield, although admits that he should have kept his emotions in check.

But with the automatic promotion places still in sight, he has urged everyone to remain positive. 

Cook said: “My gripe with last week’s performance was how we played in those final five minutes.

“Then there was a reaction to that right after the game which probably wasn’t professional on my part.

“I shouldn’t allow my frustrations to spill over into the media interviews, but I can be quite emotional at times because I want to win and I want to deliver success for this club.

“You get highs and lows in football – that’s part and parcel of the game. We’ve promised so much at times and we’ve faltered at other times.

“There’s always a pressure when you play for Portsmouth Football Club – no-one’s ever going to take that away.

“But we have to educate these lads about how the games should be played. It’s a learning curve for them.

“Overall, I’m pleased at the level the players are at and the commitment they give game in, game out.

“There are nine matches to go and still so much to play for this season, so we’ve got to keep believing.”

Pompey will be facing a Notts County side who sit 19th in the League Table table, having not won any of their past seven games.

Jamie Fullarton was dismissed as manager following Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Exeter, with Mark Cooper replacing him in the hot-seat.

Cook said: “Like a lot of clubs in this division, there was probably an expectation on them to get promoted or be in the play-offs.

“Mark’s been brought in now to steady the ship and there will always be a reaction from players when a manager of his standard goes in. 

“He’s had a really good career and his Swindon team last season were arguably the best in that division.

“But at Fratton Park on Friday it will be up to us to lift our supporters and we owe them a big performance.”

Conor Wilkinson has been brought in on loan from Bolton, but the striker is currently away on international duty and will miss the next two games.

Cook said: “Conor’s a very good player, although probably hasn’t maximised the potential he’s got in his previous loan spells.

“With Michael Smith’s deal ending before the end of the campaign and a chance of us being in the play-offs, that was an area where we had to strengthen.”

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

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