PAUL COOK believes Newport County’s pitch will have a ‘massive’ impact on his side’s Boxing Day clash.
And he fears the Rodney Parade playing surface could consign Graham Westley’s side to relegation this season.
Pompey go to Wales next Monday looking to extend their impressive away form in League Two.
Cook’s side have four wins and two draws from their last six matches on the road.
But Newport’s playing surface is going to present a challenge, as well as the side fighting for their Football League lives.
The Exiles saw their clash with Morecambe abandoned earlier in the month and Cook has already indicated the pitch will affect Pompey’s approach to the game.
Cook said: ‘I think it’s a difficult position for the manager going in there, but they’ve managed to win a few games quickly.
‘They looked like they were turning it around but the last couple of results haven’t been what they wanted.
‘The pitch and the abandonments have played a big part with that.
‘They are 1-0 up against Morecambe and expecting to win the game.
‘I’m sure they’re suffering because it’s having a detrimental impact on their season in terms of momentum.
‘That’s not our problem. Our problem is trying to get those points on the board to see us where we want to be.
‘Newport will be a very difficult game and the pitch will play a massive part in a tough match. We must adapt.
‘It’ll will be a tough game. Not just because of the pitch – but because of the opposition.
‘But the pitch won’t help it to be a good spectacle.’
Cook took in Newport’s FA Cup replay with Plymouth last night.
The Exiles had to spread a dome cover over their pitch in tandem with an air blower to the make the surface playable.
Cook had sympathy for the bottom-of-the-table side with the issue.
After having three games abandoned or postponed already this season, Cook feels a fixture pile-up could hurt them.
He said: ‘I can only highlight I feel sorry for Newport.
‘I’ve always been a great believer in football. I’ve always been a great believer the pitch shouldn’t be a leveller.
‘I’ve always felt everyone should be able to play on a carpet of a pitch and then decide how they want to play.
‘That’s always been my philosophy. The pitch shouldn’t influence how people want to play.
‘Unfortunately, for the lads at Newport that’s the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s not their fault the pitch isn’t great.
‘No one is offering that as a reason for blame, but Newport could end up relegated on the back of a fixture pile-up.
‘Their pitch could actually contrive to get them relegated.
‘That’s their concern, though, not mine.’
- JORDAN CROSS