Pompey take on Luton Town at Kenilworth Road tomorrow night for a key match in the League Two promotion race.
Conor Chaplin is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Cheltenham but Paul Cook has confirmed that Michael Smith will replace him and would have done so anyway. Amine Linganzi is available again after serving his suspension.
Luton midfielder Jordan Cook returns to the squad after a ban whilst manager Nathan Jones can also call upon the services of Scott Cuthbert again after recovering from injury.
Tomorrow's match will be a true test of Portsmouth's promotion credentials as they take on a Luton side that are unbeaten in nine league matches and were leapfrogged by after only drawing at Cheltenham whilst the Hatters won at Morecambe.
The home side have obvious goal threats in Danny Hylton, Issac Vassell and Cameron McGeehan whilst their defence don't concede many goals, having kept a clean sheet in their last three games.
In contrast, Pompey's performances away from home haven't been convincing, they continue to concede sloppy goals and will be without their best striker. On paper, a draw would be seen as an excellent result tomorrow and the vast majority of Blues fans would accept that.
However, with Cook admitting that Smith was always going to start this game, it makes you wonder just how long he has been preparing for it tactically and if he has any other aces up his sleeve. The Pompey manager has been criticised for his lack of a plan B so tomorrow presents an opportunity for him to prove his doubters wrong and show just how astute he can be.
Cook can only do so much, however, and his big players need to step up to the occasion. Especially Gary Roberts who, apart from scoring a few penalties, hasn't built on his excellent start to the season. The back four will need to be extra organised and it wouldn't be surprising to see Linganzi come back into the team to add some more steel to the midfield.
Pompey really need to make some sort of statement of intent given that they've failed to beat any of their likely promotion rivals so far this season. A defeat will be a huge blow to the fans' confidence in whether this group of players are capable of getting promoted and even more questions will be asked of the manager.
A result tomorrow evening would be the perfect way to answer those questions.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Christian WALTON
RB: James JUSTIN
CB: Johnny MULLINS
CB: Glen REA
LB: Alan SHEEHAN
RM: Olly LEE
CM: Cameron McGEEHAN
CM: Pelly Ruddock MPANZU
LM: Alex GILLIEAD
CF: Danny HYLTON
CF: Isaac VASSELL
GK: David FORDE
RB: Gareth EVANS
CB: Christian BURGESS
CB: Matt CLARKE
LB: Enda STEVENS
DM: Michael DOYLE
DM: Amine LINGANZI
RM: Gary ROBERTS
AM: Carl BAKER
LM: Kyle BENNETT
CF: Michael SMITH
Last Time: Luton Town 1 Portsmouth 2 (League Two - 29/08/2015)
Gareth Evans gave Pompey the lead after taking advantage of a fortunate ricochet off Scott Cuthbert but the hosts were level when Nigel Atangana was penalised for a foul on Josh McQuoid in the box and Cameron McGeehan scored from the resulting penalty.
The game was heading for a draw until the last minute when Conor Chaplin's shot could only be parried away by the Luton keeper and Matt Tubbs was on hand to tap in a late winner and create scenes of bedlam in Kenilworth Road's away end.
Based on the performance at Cheltenham it's difficult to see Pompey getting a result against such a good team due to their wastefulness up front and vulnerability at the back. However, I am backing our players to step it up and get a draw for no real logical reason as League Two football rarely follows logic.
Luton Town 1 Portsmouth 1