Pompey v Oxford: Sparky lays down U’s challenge

Pompey striker Mark McNulty Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey striker Mark McNulty Picture: Joe Pepler

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MARC McNULTY refused to contemplate defeat as he readied himself for the sell-out showdown with Oxford.

The striker has delivered a no-nonsense message that only victory will do ahead of tomorrow’s promotion tussle at Fratton Park.

There’s no beating around the bush - we must win. Simple as that.

Marc McNulty

Pompey are gearing for what is set to be a toe-to-toe battle between two sides intent on going up this season.

That has got McNulty fired up and looking forward to sampling what is certain to be a bearpit atmosphere.

Third-placed Oxford arrive four points ahead of Pompey, with the gap 11 points to league-leaders Plymouth.

McNulty, nicknamed Sparky, made it clear that can not be allowed to widen as the pace hots up in League Two.

He said: ‘It’s always been the message that Saturday is most important.

‘With the league game being off last week we’re all champing at the bit to play.

‘There’s no beating around the bush – we must win. Simple as that.

‘The boys are going in thinking we need to win, and we’re up for it.

‘For a League Two match it’s going to be some atmosphere.

‘You won’t get a gate like that in the Championship.

‘It will be sold out and our fans will be in good voice as usual. It’s exciting for everyone.

‘We don’t want the gap getting bigger than it already is, and the boys know that.

‘We’re going into the latter end of the season and this is when we hope to kick on.

‘My only target is to help the team get promoted and get them back to where they belong.

‘If that’s with me scoring 10 goals or 20 goals, happy days!

‘The most important thing is this team going up.’

McNulty will be looking to add to the seven goals he’s got since arriving on loan from Sheffield United in November tomorrow.

He is likely to be bidding to do that as he leads the line following Caolan Lavery’s return to Sheffield Wednesday.

McNulty underlined Pompey have the quality to plug the gap created by Lavery’s exit.

But the Scot still hasn’t given up on the Canadian-born Irishman returning to Fratton Park before the end of the month.

McNulty said: ‘I still chat to Lavs (Lavery) and he’s very disappointed that he’s not still at the club.

‘It was out of Lav’s hands.

‘I don’t know how much I can say, but he wanted to stay and play football.

‘It’s no secret he wants to be here and he’s wanted here.

‘Unfortunately, that’s not been the case.

‘But let’s hope there’s still something there.

‘There could still be something there before the window shuts.

‘With a club like Portsmouth, the beauty is the squad is very strong.

‘There’s boys on the bench not getting on who are very good players.’