Campbell looking for further Blues improvement at Pompey

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Portsmouth v Southend United – Fratton Park – Sky Bet League One – Tuesday 7:45pm

Portsmouth v Southend United – Preview:

Sol Campbell is hopeful that his improving Southend United side can take it up another notch when they visit one of his former clubs, Portsmouth, on Tuesday evening.

Campbell skippered Pompey to FA Cup success when they beat Cardiff City by a single goal in the 2008 final. However, although the one-time England defender is looking forward to a return to Fratton Park, turning around Southend’s fortunes is now his main priority.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he enthused.

“I’ve been back a couple of times to watch games over the past few years but I’m looking forward to going back. There’s always a great atmosphere there, it’s an old fashioned ground and they’re on top of you. We’re looking forward to it but we have to make sure we’re up for it. We have to set our stall out and do things easy.

“We have to keep it going and that’s what it’s all about.

“It’s the next game and the main thing for me is that the performances have got a little bit more robust. We’re showing signs that we’re getting fitter and starting to work out where you can play on the pitch and where you can’t. The lads are starting to see everything needs to put a shift in and chip in to get the points we need to stay up.

“For me, it’s about thickening up certain areas and freeing up certain players as well. That’s key if we’re going to utilise their natural ability and have some cover here and there. We had to settle the whole team and get hold of a system we can learn quickly in and play.”

Southend went down by a goal to nil at Sunderland on Saturday. Nevertheless, Campbell recognised that his new side is moving in the right direction, even though they were unable to claim anything from the game.

“We have to make sure we stick together as a unit and make sure there are no gaps,” he continued.

“We have to ride it out and start to play our football. We have to try and keep everyone quiet and play a simple game. We have to back each other up and not give them leg ups for no reason. We have to make them work for everything because that’s what it’s all about at Fratton Park.

“It’s about clearing our lines and starting to play football again in the right areas. That’s what I’ll be saying to the players. We have to keep it simple and we’ll get through this.”

Campbell waxed lyrical about his time at Fratton Park: “It’s a fantastic club with great fans,” he added.

“I won the FA Cup there and have some good memories there. It’s a real proper hardcore fanbase. They’re a great club who love to sing. There’s a great atmosphere there and it can be quite feisty sometimes. They’re very vocal and whether they’re winning 2-0 or 3-0 or losing 2-0 or 3-0 the fans are still there.

“No-one has the divine right to be anywhere. They have the budget to get out but the main thing is they’re stable behind the scenes and the fans wanted that stability.”

A victory for Southend would take them within five points of the Sky bet League One safety zone and the Blues chief insisted his side aren’t too far away from achieving that particular goal: “Any win is good for me. The main thing is are the performances for me. The lads put in a fantastic shift at Sunderland and played really well.

“If we keep working hard those half chances and decisions will start to go our way but you have to put the effort in first. You if start to slack off your luck runs out. We have to earn the right to win games.”

Portsmouth v Southend United – Head to head:

Portsmouth won: 18
Drawn: 9
Southend United won: 11

Portsmouth v Southend United – Last five meetings (all competitions):

November 18, 2017 – League One
Portsmouth 1-0 Southend United

February 17, 2018 – League One
Southend United 3-1 Portsmouth

December 8, 2018 – League One
Portsmouth 2-0 Southend United

January 8, 2019 – Checkatrade Trophy
Southend United 0-2 Portsmouth

February 16, 2019 – League One
Southend United 3-3 Portsmouth

Jeevesie’s prediction: Portsmouth 1-1 Southend United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]