PAUL COOK has praised the response of the men at the centre of Pompey’s dressing-room brawl.
Cook has saluted the recent form of Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle after they clashed at half-time in the defeat to Stevenage last month.
The Blues boss feels the pair have been among his side’s best performers since the bust-up.
Cook believes the incident between Burgess and Doyle underlines there is a burning desire among his squad to succeed this season.
But he knows that desperation to achieve can prove a negative if not channelled correctly.
Cook underlined the spirit among the squad is strong as they prepare to enter a period of four games in 11 days across the Christmas period.
He said: ‘Our lads are fine.
‘There are reasons why you get success or don’t. When egos take over you find out about people.
‘After the incident with the lads, team spirit has been questioned.
‘They (Burgess and Doyle) have been outstanding in the past two games.
‘I can only speak well of this group, how much they want to win for the supporters and how much pain they feel.
‘We can’t let that lead to our downfall, though. We can’t allow it.
‘There’s just massive disappointment when they don’t win. Massive disappointment on journeys home when they let us down.
‘In general, I have great faith in this squad.’
Pompey travel to Newport on Boxing Day looking to improve decent away form of late.
They’ve harvested four wins and two draws from their past six games on the road.
That’s in contrast to a single win and draw along with three defeats from the five most recent league outings at Fratton Park.
Cook now has to look at how to best remedy that imbalance moving forward into 2017.
But first and foremost, the challenge is to maximise the return from upcoming away games – with three of the next four outings on the road for Pompey.
Cook said: ‘Players will have dips in form when their manager needs to back them and they’ll have passages when they need to come out of the team.
‘People who’ve watched us away from home would have seen different games from Fratton Park.
‘The average fan at Fratton Park wouldn’t have seen us in good games.
‘It’s not me saying things like that are good enough. It’s the opposite.
‘Crawley came here to try to win and got blew away for 20 minutes.
‘We can’t change people’s opinions on us.
‘But the bigger picture is will we be promoted this year? That’s the challenge for us all.
‘When you get support like we get, the outcome is only achieved on that support.
‘The opposite side of that is not good for anyone.’
– JORDAN CROSS