James Dunne has fired a warning to his League Two rivals as he told them: I won’t back down.
The new Pompey midfielder, signed from Stevenage in the close season, has impressed with his performances in his first four games and is the only player alongside goalkeeper Paul Jones to have played every minute of the campaign ahead of today’s League Two trip to Oxford.
But it is his aggression in the middle of the pitch that has really stood out so far, as he has added some much-needed steel to the Blues midfield.
And Dunne has no plans to change the way he plays as he sets the tone for Pompey’s approach.
Dunne said: ‘I have always played like that.
‘I will break things up, make tackles and give it to the players who can cause trouble.
‘I have never shied out of a tackle and I never will.
‘I enjoy that side of the game – some people don’t like it but I love it.
‘I have been that way from a young age – it’s probably my favourite part of the game.
‘Scoring goals might just be better but I am at my best when I am on the front foot.
‘Sometimes it can get a team going, it can get the crowd going and can set the tone.
‘When you are playing in front of 17,000, you put a tackle in and the crowd roar, it lifts the team and it lifts everyone. That can help the team to go and get a goal or start getting on top.’
The 24-year-old knows his style of play could see him land himself in trouble with referees.
But he had yet to pick up a booking for Pompey before today’s game.
But he believes there is mutual respect between himself and the officials.
He said: ‘I have played at this level for three or four years and you get to know the referees a bit.
‘You can speak to them. You can have a row with them and they have a row with me so it evens itself out.
‘But I don’t take the mickey too much and neither do they.
‘We get on well with each other.
‘I will never go into a tackle to hurt someone.
‘If I mistime it, then I mistime it. That’s just the way I play and I’m sorry.’
Dunne has only been sent off once in his career.
And he’s never been told by managers to curb his aggression.
He said: ‘No manager has ever told me not to do it.
‘They have told me to use my brain and not do silly things – I already know that.
‘I will not go into a challenge that I know I’m never going to win and end up getting sent off for it.
‘Tackling is a skill. You don’t get a lot of notice for it, rather than someone who scores two goals.
‘But I like that stuff. I like going under the radar, getting my challenges in, winning the ball and setting my team on the attack.’