Pompey skipper sets top-three target

Pompey captain Michael Doyle
Pompey captain Michael Doyle

MICHAEL DOYLE has targeted a top-three place by the end of February.

The Pompey captain believes his team need to be aiming to be in the automatic promotions spots by the end of next month.

Paul Cook’s side begin February with a trip to form side Wycombe this weekend.

The Chairboys are 12 games unbeaten in the league and gave Premier League Spurs a huge fright, before losing to a stoppage-time goal in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The trip to Adams Park marks the start of six games in February which will have a seismic impact on how the season will shape up.

Home fixtures against Accrington and Blackpool precede trips to Barnet and Carlisle, with Morecambe arriving at Fratton Park at the end of the month.

The Blues go to Wycombe this weekend four points off third-placed Carlisle with a game in hand.

But it’s tightening up at the top of the table, and a victory for either Gareth Ainsworth’s side or Exeter will see them go above Pompey when they meet tonight.

Doyle knows what lies ahead over the next four weeks will be key, and is aiming to be in the top three at the end of it.

He said: ‘I hope the fixtures are in our favour.

‘It’s important with the form to look after ourselves.

‘Last season we felt the second half of the season was made for us.

‘We had to play a lot of the big teams at home.

‘We ended up losing to Oxford and teams like that.

‘That was in our favour – but we didn’t take the opportunity.

‘I just felt last season we had a good start and this season we’ve been a bit slow at the start.

‘Last year there was the disappointment of coming up short. We don’t want that again.

‘It’s a massive month in February – if we can get into that top three by the end of it we’ll be looking at promotion.’

Pompey are today hoping to bolster their options as the January transfer window closes. Doyle believes there’s no excuses when it comes to squad strength.

He added: ‘There’s people like Naismith who are looking physically strong and have waited for their chance.

‘Obviously, there are people like Bennett and Roberts who haven’t been in the side.

‘The squad is there.

‘When it comes to this stage of the season everybody is desperate to play.

‘Every three points takes you closer.

‘There’s no moping, everyone wants to play, and there has to be an intensity.

‘Everything is perfectly set up for us – we just have to take care of business.’

– JORDAN CROSS