Pompey’s boss John Mousinho discusses his injury dilemma as he pledges more selection surprises to drive Portsmouth’s Championship return ahead of Readings clash…

In a surprising move, he left out Jack Sparkes and Joe Rafferty during the midweek match against Cambridge United, opting to replace them with Connor Ogilvie and Zak Swanson instead. The result of the game was a goalless draw, allowing Portsmouth to extend their lead at the top of League One by four points.

As Portsmouth now prepares to face Reading, a struggling team near the bottom of the table with financial concerns and a planned supporter protest, Mousinho has revealed that further alterations to the starting lineup are on the horizon. While Sparkes will return due to Ogilvie’s injury absence, Mousinho is prepared for more rotation among his first eleven players.

Mousinho explained, “I understand that bringing in Zak instead of Joe may come as a surprise, especially given Joe Rafferty’s excellent form. But had Zak not faced a personal tragedy, it would have been difficult to displace him after his performance in the Derby match. Likewise, Joe has performed exceptionally well since the start of the season, particularly since the Barnsley game, making it a tough decision. We have two right-backs in great form. When you see either of them on the team sheet, it shouldn’t be a shock; we’re trying to manage player workload and games.”

He further emphasized, “No player has complained about feeling tired; it’s my responsibility to anticipate that. The schedule can present challenging weeks, so it’s wise to utilize the strength we have within the squad right now. We have fit players who are eager to compete for their spot, making my selection decisions quite challenging. I wouldn’t make these changes if our squad wasn’t strong. In various positions, we’ve rotated players, and they’ve adapted to different roles.”

Mousinho pointed out, “After this weekend, we have three games in seven days, including an FA Cup match against Chesterfield, an EFL Trophy game against Leyton Orient, and a home fixture against Charlton. We want to keep our players fresh and energized, especially since we play on Sunday and then on Tuesday immediately after. There’s no time to rest after Leyton Orient, as we have a match on Saturday against Charlton. Managing the squad is the prudent approach.”


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