Pompey boss rues '˜horrific' injury crisis
Paul Cook is ruing the '˜horrific' injury list which has crippled Pompey's preparations for tonight's trip to AFC Wimbledon.
The Blues head to Kingsmeadow (7.45pm) with a play-off spot all but mathematically secured.
But such is the extent of their injuries, Cook believes he will struggle to even fill the substitutes’ bench.
Adam Webster and Kyle Bennett are not yet ready to return from foot injuries sustained at York.
Loanees Ryan Fulton and Conor Wilkinson remain at their parent clubs receiving treatment.
And following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Wycombe, there are now additional casualties, with the Blues boss declining to reveal their identities.
Regardless, Cook has vowed to field his strongest team against play-off rivals Wimbledon.
Yet he has warned supporters to expect a ‘patchwork’ side.
He said: ‘Injuries are bad, poor, we are on the floor, not in a good place at all.
‘There are lads you think would start tonight who won’t even be on the bench – and we are not resting anyone.
‘This is not about us trying to be clever, we have a serious injury crisis at the minute.
‘We don’t have the option to field any type of weakened team or make changes through choice – it will be a patchwork team.
‘It’s certain areas we might struggle in, we have a few injuries and I think the problems are going past tonight, so that is the worrying thing.
‘When people see the team tonight they will wonder, so we are telling them nice and early that some of the choices have been taken away from us.
‘We are not trying to be clever with team selection, I don’t want people saying “Why did you leave him out, why did you leave him out”.
‘That will be our strongest possible team. The lads not on the bench are not being rested.
‘We’re struggling to fill the bench. We have an horrific injury list.’
The original fixture between the sides was scheduled for March 28, only for a waterlogged pitch to intervene.
The rearrangement for tonight ensures it is the only League Two match taking place.
Neal Ardley’s seventh-placed team sit a point behind the Blues, with the sides sharing a goalless Fratton draw earlier this season.
Now it will be a severely understrength Pompey side fulfilling the fixture.
Cook added: ‘We are going to get on with it and that is why Saturday’s result was so important.
‘If we would have lost that and then faced Wimbledon with this injury list we would have come under massive pressure.
‘All of a sudden we are on our knees.
‘We have a difficult night this evening and it will definitely be a case of all hands to the pump.’