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COOK: LET'S RELISH BIG GAMES

11 May 2016

Boss looking forward to Plymouth play-off clash

There will be plenty of frayed nerves in the stands at Fratton Park as Pompey make their bid for promotion glory.

Plymouth are the visitors tomorrow night as the Sky Bet play-offs get underway on the south coast.

With such an important prize at stake, it is only natural for a degree of tension to start building up.

But Paul Cook is revelling in the opportunity to lead Pompey into such a vital fixture.

The Blues boss said: “It’s a time to celebrate that we’re in the play-offs and now we’ll be trying to get to Wembley.

“Games will swing on moments of magic or refereeing decisions, but the more you get involved with these big matches, the more you want to experience them.

“We’ve had fantastic occasions here against Derby, Ipswich and Bournemouth and we’ve beaten a lot of sides away from home, so I’m not so sure that big games are a problem for us.

“We put a brand new squad together very quickly last summer and nobody said it would be easy, but the target at a place like this will always be promotion.

“The best teams are the ones that finish at the top and although we weren’t good enough to finish in the automatic places, our hunger has been there since day one.

“The club’s in a great position off the pitch, but the most important thing going forward is that we get stronger and stronger.”

Pompey and Plymouth both won 2-1 on each other’s patch earlier in the season and Cook knows it will be a tough test for his troops.

He said: “They’re are a very strong side. I read that they’d been on a bad run – well it’s a good job they did because otherwise they’d have won the league by 20 points.

“The season is all about what happens over 46 games and, in my opinion, they’ve had a fantastic campaign.

“They’ve got a very strong manager and coaching staff and very good players – they’re formidable opponents and we’ll have to be at our best.

“Plymouth hurt us late on in the game when they came here last month. They’ll take belief from that and think they can do it again.

“But we can look back to the fact that at 1-0 up, we looked like the only team who would score again.

“We’re all in the lap of the gods now and it doesn’t really matter what I say or what the Plymouth manager says.

“The game will be decided on the football pitch over two legs and the best side will win.”

Pompey have been beset by a number of injury problems in recent weeks, but Cook is playing his cards close to his chest.

He said: “We’ve had some issues, but we’re not going to address those now and everyone will see the team when it’s announced an hour before kick-off.”

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


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