IT’S TWO from three for Paul Cook as he mulls over a midfield without Michael Doyle.
Pompey’s skipper is suspended for tomorrow’s trip to Bristol Rovers following his sending off at Oxford United.
That splits up the holding midfield double act with Nigel Atangana which was ever-present in the Blues’ opening eight league matches.
Adam Barton, who replaced the Frenchman at half-time at the Kassam Stadium, and Danny Hollands now come into the equation.
Meanwhile, there is no guarantee Atangana himself will remain in the side as Cooks looks to make changes.
Although Pompey’s boss has ruled out a start for forgotten man James Dunne, while Ben Close is out with a hamstring injury.
Atangana has played great and had a bad game, Barton has come into the team and Hollands is ready to play, pick any two you want! It will be two of them, that’s for surePaul Cook
‘Michael’s a very competitive player and when you are building a team with flair players the shield before them will end up having to be competitive, so I have no problems with the sending off, with the bookings or anything else,’ said Cook.
‘Michael is a model pro. As a manager, the important thing is to always back your players. I blame us for giving the ball way high up the pitch rather than Michael getting sent off.
‘The good thing now – and I think our fans would agree – is the unbeaten run can lead to a clamour for no change when all of a sudden our teams looks in need of a change or two for a game or two.
‘We haven’t really been firing properly so maybe a change or two, which will be natural change, will freshen us up to go on and be better.
‘It will be two from three – Danny Hollands, Atangana and Adam Barton. James (Dunne) hasn’t played games so he won’t play.
‘Atangana has played great and had a bad game, Barton has come into the team and Hollands is ready to play, pick any two you want! It will be two of them, that’s for sure.’
Barton’s 45-minute appearance as substitute at Oxford puts him firmly in the box seat to be one of the two in the midfield role.
Another consideration is Hollands, who has made five appearances this season, including two starts in the Capital One Cup.
Cook added: ‘Adam did excellent at Oxford. He’s a good player, he makes the game look so easy with his passing.
‘He has such a lovely style of play when he is playing well. When he’s not playing well his style of play could go against him.
‘Adam was probably really sloppy with two or three passes in the game, but in the last three months how many games has he had?
‘In an ideal world I would have liked him to have been out on loan and played four or five games for a club in the Conference. I would be happy because now I would be putting Adam into our team match-fit.
‘What one person adds he might take away in another department. If you are replacing Adam Barton for Michael Doyle you get two contrasting styles of players.’