Pompey managed to throw away an early lead to suffer a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace tonight - well, at least it's better than the 8-0 mashing we took at the tail end of last season. But, as is so often the case with the reserves, it's not so much the result that's important but more those who played (and in this case, those who didn't).
Collins Mbesuma grabbed another poacher's goal and has strengthened his case for a call-up to the first team this weekend. Certainly rumours seem to be suggesting that after two goals in two appearances, not to mention playing a fair slab of reserve games, he'll finally be ready to return to the Fratton pitch for the first time since Tottenham came to town back in early August. His case is helped by injuries of course but it is interesting to note that Todorov played no part at all in tonight's action. Considering how lumberingly unfit he's been since his return it's a bit of a surprise - not taking the risk because we can't afford him to pick up a knock when we're short on numbers? Or not taking the risk because he's got a bigger part to play on Saturday? Let the rumours begin.
Indeed whilst a youthful squad is not exactly unusual for Pompey's second team, usually you'd expect a couple of senior heads thrown in - Skopelitis has become a bit of a mainstay, for example, and can usually be seen grazing by the corner flag. But no such luck this evening; Collins and Sander the only players in the starting line-up not currently with the youth side. And I suppose it's no real surprise considering the problems we've got; LuaLua obviously out for a while, Griffin and O'Neil both picking up knocks, Linvoy just returning to training, Toddy unfit and Vukic a "possibility" for this weekend but more likely to make the bench at best (clearly he's been rushed back but with internationals coming up we can afford to take the risk and rest him later). Why bother naming a strong side when chances are half of them will get crippled by over-enthusiastic youngsters/cynical old pro's playing out their contract.
Since promotion squad depth and a wealth of options has never been one of our strong points. More of a major weakness, truth be told. Can you read much about this Saturday's game based on tonight's line-up? Other than the fact Ashdown will be between the sticks, I'd say probably not. But it's certainly a bit of a worry that Newcastle are coming into form whilst we're starting to suffer shortages left, right and centre - almost sounds like it's set up for a bit of an upset if you ask me. Time to UNLEASH THE HURRICANE!
Maybe. On the bench at least.