Pompey fans head to Fratton Park on opening day tomorrow with a renewed sense of optimism as the Paul Cook era at Portsmouth begins with a home match against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Paul Jones and Matt Tubbs are the only familiar names that are guaranteed to start tomorrow's match with as many as nine new players up to make their debut against the Daggers. Nigel Atangana may partner new captain Michael Doyle in defensive midfield but there is likely to be a brand new back four behind them and midfield trio in front of them.
Josh Passley and Nyron Nosworthy are both likely to return to Fratton as starters for the opposition having been on loan at Pompey last season. Striker Matt McClure, signed from Wycombe, could make his debut along with midfielder Kane Ferdinand.
In all honesty this is an ideal opening fixture for Paul Cook's Portsmouth side. Dagenham may have finished above Pompey last season but are generally seen as one of the division's weakest sides, their fans aren't too confident of a result and they've been beaten on both of their visits to Fratton Park so far.
There are going to be many new faces to get used to tomorrow and it'll be exciting to see how the likely attacking midfield trio of Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts and Gareth Evans can perform and energise not only their team-mates but the crowd as well and they'll be hoping to see a higher quality of football than of previous seasons but as mentioned previously it may take the flair players in the team some time to gel.
The same can be said for the new look Pompey defence which gradually got better during pre-season but face a tough test in keeping out Jamie Cureton who may be almost 40 but he's still clever enough to find the net regularly in League Two. Matt McClure is his most likely partner up front and the former Wycombe man has posed Pompey plenty of problems before.
Two familiar faces returning to Fratton Park will be Josh Passley and Nyron Nosworthy and so hopefully Matt Tubbs would have told his new colleagues all about their weaknesses.
Passley is prone to leaving gaps at the back when he goes forward whilst any player with pace and guile should be able to beat Nosworthy without any problems. It should be interesting to see Bennett and Roberts up against him as they could potentially have a field day.
The match is close to selling out so let's hope we're entertained and more importantly get the three points on opening day to make a statement of intent. Nothing screams "mediocre season" more than a goalless draw at home to Dagenham & Redbridge after the first match but they're still a side to be respected and patience might be required during this match if both sides approach the game cautiously.
However, if Paul Cook's recent words are anything to go by then we can look forward to our new team taking the game to the opposition, getting plenty of crosses in and making sure their goalkeeper has plenty to do.
And when the final whistle blows tomorrow hopefully there'll be the first of many victories to celebrate in the next nine months as the dream of promotion looks to finally become a reality.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Paul JONES
RB: Ben DAVIES
CB: Christian BURGESS
CB: Matt CLARKE
LB: Enda STEVENS
DM: Michael DOYLE
DM: Nigel ATANGANA
RM: Gareth EVANS
AM: Gary ROBERTS
LM: Kyle BENNETT
CF: Matt TUBBS
GK: Mark COUSINS
RB: Josh PASSLEY
CB: Nyron NOSWORTHY
CB: Matt PARTRIDGE
LB: Jack CONNORS
RM: Kane FERDINAND
CM: Andre BOUCAUD
CM: Joss LABADIE
LM: Zavon HINES
CF: Matt McCLURE
CF: Jamie CURETON
Last Time: Portsmouth 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 0 (League Two - 16/09/2014)
Having wasted a whole host of chances in the first half the visitors found themselves behind when Patrick Agyemang teed up James Dunne and Dagenham were down to ten men in the second half when Andre Boucaud was sent off for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Agyemang that saw him come off worse.
Andy Awford's men made the numerical advantage count as Jed Wallace converted a penalty after a foul on Paul Robinson in the box and Andy Barcham finished a swift counter-attack very late on to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering look.
The defence remains unconvincing on paper but there's a lot of attacking talent on the pitch and with an expectant crowd behind them, I believe Pompey will win their first game of the season for the first time in nine years!
Portsmouth 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1