Squad put through paces as Cox goes back to basics in training.Manager Paul Cox says he has been tougher on his players during training sessions this week ahead of Saturday’s trip to mid-table Portsmouth.
Our team head to Fratton Park occupying 15th position in the Sky Bet League Two table, having accumulated 15 points from 11 matches so far this term.
“It really has [been back to basics]. I’ve been really impressed with the way that the boys have responded as the sessions have been tough and there hasn’t been an inch given,” said Cox.
“When you lose a game, you question it, but I thought our first half performance [last Saturday, against Accrington Stanley] was unacceptable for this football club. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I just sat there and shrugged my shoulders.”
Despite being well-fancied by bookmakers to be in the hunt for promotion, Saturday’s opponents have experienced something of an indifferent start to the season.
Under manager Andy Awford, Pompey have won four, drawn four and lost three of their first 11 matches and currently find themselves in 9th position in the division.
Our boss continued: “A numbers of years ago they were in the Premier League and winning the FA Cup. It’s still a massive club with a massive fan base and amazing resources.
“But it’s a football match and we want to go there and try and put the first half against Accrington behind us, because it wasn’t us and won’t be tolerated at this club.
“The lads have got to go there, be positive, be resolute and come away with a positive result.”
We head to the South Coast short on numbers following the news that Ryan Tafazolli will be sidelined for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury, whilst John Dempster requires an operation due to a groin problem which will sideline him until Christmas.
Skipper Adam Murray is also ruled out of action until our match at York City later this month, following an unsuccessful appeal against the red card that he received in our last match.
“This is the situation that we’re in and we’ve just got to get on with it,” said Cox. “The team more or less picks itself for Saturday, as I think we’ve got 16 fit players at the minute.
“We’re hoping that we can move into the loan market, even if it’s just for a month, to get a body or two in, but if not then we’ll soldier on.”
Two trialists were fielded at centre-back in a reserve team game at Huddersfield Town on Monday, but our manager insists that although they performed well, neither of them will be joining us in the immediate future.
He added: “Both of them were young players and did exceptionally well against a good Huddersfield side, but they’re not ready yet for League Two.
“We’ll still keep our eye on both players though, because they have bags of potential.”
Paul Cox’s full interview from today's press meeting is now available on Stags Player. To subscribe, click here.