GARY ROBERTS is ready to take on the pressure of delivering in Pompey’s ‘biggest’ game of the season.
The Blues playmaker rates tonight’s trip to Accrington Stanley as the most important clash of the campaign.
Paul Cook’s fifth-placed side can leapfrog Stanley, who are fourth, and close the gap on the top three to six points with victory at the Crown Ground.
Roberts has been hindered by ankle and hamstring problems this season.
But the 31-year-old was back at the heart of proceedings in Saturday’s win at Stevenage Borough.
Paul Cook today pinpointed Roberts as the ‘fulcrum’ of his team in The News ahead of tonight’s clash.
That’s a status the summer arrival from Chesterfield is more than willing to embrace.
Roberts said: ‘I like the pressure the manager puts me under to turn up.
‘I put myself under pressure to turn up in these games.
‘You try your best and, sometimes, you can try too hard.
‘I think when I’ve been on the pitch lately I’ve contributed with goals or assists.
‘The pressure is on me to deliver – and it’s up to me now.
‘You can’t shy away. You can have bad games, but you can never shy from it.
‘There’s pressure here anyway. There’s no hiding place.
‘If I lose the ball I’ll keep going and getting it.
‘If you sign as one of those players you have to step up.
‘I haven’t been on the pitch enough. It’s shown.
‘When I’ve been on the pitch I’ve scored and got assists.
‘It’s not bad for the amount of games I’ve played, but it’s not enough for me.
‘It’s not enough for what I came here for.
‘There’s still 12 games to go and, hopefully, I can get some goals and assists.
‘People will forget everything if we get promoted.
‘If I can contribute to that it’d be good.’
Cook has underlined the significance of the match in Pompey upping the ante on the teams above them in the table.
And the rivalry between the sets of players and staff has already been seen in the two clashes between the outfits this season.
Roberts feels Accrington will be no respecter of reputations in a huge clash.
He added: ‘The two managers know each other and really want to beat each other.
‘It’s two Scousers going at it.
‘They have brave, young lads who don’t care about Portsmouth. They’ll get amongst it.
‘They’ll have respect, but they won’t care we’re a big club.
‘It’s going be a tough game, the biggest of the season.
‘It’s a massive game for both teams.
‘I know how big this game is.
‘Everyone is different. My mind set is this is a big game and I want to win it.’