Etuhu: We've got no fear
Kelvin Etuhu is confident fearless Pompey can step up their latest Great Escape effort at Coventry.
Victory over Birmingham on Tuesday night – in a tumultuous Fratton occasion – saw hope of Championship survival engulf the city.
And three points against relegation rivals Coventry at the Ricoh Arena tomorrow would lift the Blues off the foot of the table.
That would further inspire belief Michael Appleton’s men are set for another famous Great Escape charge.
Going into the Birmingham game, Pompey were floundering, with no win in nine matches and just two goals scored during that run. And when Nikola Zigic put play-off-chasing Birmingham ahead on eight minutes, it seemed Pompey were down and out.
Not a chance.
Appleton’s men roared back in the second half with a sensational attacking performance.
Four stunning Pompey goals later and chants of ‘we are staying up’ rang around the famous old ground.
And Etuhu, who scored a stunning third goal in the epic success, believes Coventry should beware.
Pompey will attack their hosts with freedom and confidence off the back of their brilliant Birmingham display – in keeping with the philosophy of manager Appleton.
Etuhu said: ‘Birmingham are a good side.
‘Now we have got something that can give us a push and show there is still hope.
‘The manager keeps telling us “don’t play with fear, go out there and express yourselves”.
‘I’m a very happy man. I’m happy we got the win and we need to take that into the Coventry game and get a result.’
Etuhu & Co have had to watch on in recent weeks as star players depart in order to help balance the books.
The much-needed loan fees obtained and wage bill reductions boosted the club’s chances of fulfilling their fixtures this season.
But, equally, the loss of key men hindered the cause on the pitch in the battle against the drop.
Etuhu, though, has remained focused on the goal of achieving results to avoid the drop.
He added: ‘It has been hard losing key players, like Liam Lawrence, Hayden Mullins and Stephen Henderson.
‘But we have just got to keep going.
‘We have still got good enough players to get results.
‘We have all stuck together, we are all one – and that’s what we need.’
When Appleton sent Etuhu on in the 73rd minute against Birmingham, the match was perfectly poised for the speedy attacking midfielder to wreak havoc.
The visitors were down to 10 men and chasing the game after Chris Maguire and David Norris had fired Pompey ahead.
Etuhu relished the prospect of coming on to attack a tiring defence.
And he opened his Blues account in style on 77 minutes, latching on to Maguire’s superbly-weighted pass, before taking the ball forward and firing high into the net.
That goal sent a surge of belief through the ground, with Marko Futacs later adding a fourth.
Etuhu credited Appleton with giving him the confidence to go on and produce such a positive impact.
He said: ‘The manager gives every player belief that we can perform.
‘Without him it would be very difficult to come on and score a goal like that.
‘He played a really, really huge part in our success against Birmingham.
‘He says “Kelvin, believe in yourself.
‘And “you know you have got the talent, that’s why I signed you”.
‘He says it to all the players – that’s why we are here.
‘We are all good players. He is very influential.
‘The manager gives us confidence and we have to take it on and believe in it.’