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Fixture News

Jackett: Thrive On The Pressure

Boss looks ahead to second leg clash with Sunderland

14 May 2019

Kenny Jackett
Photo: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Kenny Jackett is confident that Pompey can hit top form in Thursday’s crucial play-off clash with Sunderland.

The sides will meet at a packed Fratton Park following a 1-0 victory for the Wearsiders at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

It will be the fifth contest between the sides already this season, including that penalty shoot-out success at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Now a return to the national stadium is up for grabs and Jackett wants to see an improvement from his troops.

The Blues boss said: “We’re capable of producing a performance on Thursday night that will be at the top of our range.

“With the atmosphere and the energy that will be present inside the stadium, I think the players will be able to pick up on that.

"There’s pressure with every game when you’re a big club and these are the kind of matches you want to be involved in."

Kenny Jackett

“We’ve been limping along over the past few games, although we’ve put absolutely everything into them.

“Have we been at our absolute best in that time? No. Do we need to be on Thursday? Yes, we definitely do.

“It’s a fixture we have to win and we’ve got the home advantage, so we need to make the most of that.

“There’s pressure with every game when you’re a big club and these are the kind of matches you want to be involved in.

“It’s an opportunity for us. We’re one of four sides with a chance of getting to the Championship and we want to be the one to do it.”

Lee Brown (Achilles) and Brett Pitman (hamstring) missed the first leg and face a race against time to be fit.

Jackett said: “Both of them are progressing well and have been working outside, without being involved with the rest of the group.

“There will be a chance for them to return to full training on Wednesday and that will be their fitness test.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they are. They’re both in with a shout at the moment, but until they go flat out, we won’t know.

“We’re hoping that they’ll be available, although if not, someone else will step in and have to do a job.”

The away goals rule does not apply in the play-offs, increasing the chances of another shoot-out being needed.

Jackett said: “We definitely practice penalties. We have whenever it’s been relevant this season, although we won’t dwell on it.”

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