PAUL COOK warned Pompey face a powerful challenge to their impressive defensive record at Carlisle.
The Blues will be tasked with keeping Cumbrians striker Jamie Proctor under wraps at Brunton Park tomorrow.
He was attracting interest from Paul Cook as Pompey looked for striking reinforcements last month.
The manager landed his primary target in Eoin Doyle, however, paving the way for Proctor to join Carlisle on loan from Bolton.
The 24-year-old has made a strong start, scoring two goals in his first three games for Keith Curle’s side.
Only Doncaster have scored more goals than Carlisle in League two this season, but the Blues have the best defensive record in the division.
Cook knows his men will need to be at their best to keep that going.
He said: ‘Proctor’s a player, he’s a handful and he’ll lead the line really well.
‘He’s strong, aggressive and will cause you no end of problems.
‘Carlisle have good players. They really have. They’re a good side who’ve played a good brand of football all year.
‘They’ve scored a lot of goals and they are a freescoring team.
‘We’re looking forward to giving them a game.’
Cook is hoping for an entertaining spectacle between two sides with ambitions of promotion tomorrow.
But Carlisle have displayed a more combative edge since getting trounced 4-1 at home by Blackpool last month.
Cook can understand that, but doesn’t see a negative encounter being played out.
He feels his team aren’t far away from playing at full throttle.
After getting beat 4-1 at home I’m sure you would be more combative,’ said Cook.
‘It’s football. That defeat would’ve hurt them, but since then they’ve beat Doncaster and Wycombe. So they’ve had the right reaction.
‘We’re in for a tough game. Carlisle are a very good side.
‘It’ll be a big gate – but it always is when Portsmouth come to town.
‘We don’t seem to be conceding many goals in open play. We don’t seem to be conceding many goals in general.
‘You can say this or that is going well, and I don’t think there is a lot to be unhappy about at the moment.
‘I don’t think we’re that far away from it being very good.
‘But we then have to fulfil our fixtures and get the points from the games.’
– JORDAN CROSS