Paul Cook eager for Pompey player continuity

Paul Cook is craving Pompey continuity as he seeks to solve their creative problems.

The Blues head to Carlisle sitting in fourth place but without a win in their past four League Two matches.

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

The effectiveness of his side’s attacking powers continues to be a concern among supporters, particularly at Fratton Park.

Meanwhile, Cook’s back four have conceded only five goals in their past eight games in all competitions, earning four clean sheets in the process.

It’s a defensive solidity the Pompey boss believes has been built upon consistent team selection.

Ben Davies, Enda Stevens and Christian Burgess have been ever-present in the league, while Matt Clarke and Adam Webster have fought it out for the second central-defensive spot.

If you look at the back four all season, the only change has been Matt Clarke and Adam Webster – and Clarke has played 12 league games

Paul Cook

In contrast, injuries, suspension and unavailability have hampered Cook’s options in attack.

And he is desperate to begin fielding a more settled line-up for his three attacking midfielders and lone striker.

‘One of the things is we have had no continuity in the final third of the pitch all season,’ said Cook.

‘Very rarely have we played the same team. It has been a continuation of change.

‘Adam McGurk’s gone in there and scored goals then got injured, Gareth Evans has been suspended, Matt Tubbs has gone in and is now injured, Conor Chaplin has been in a few times, Gary Roberts is injured – it is continuous change.

‘If you look at the back four all season, the only change has been Matt Clarke and Adam Webster – and Clarke has played 12 league games.

‘In general, defensively, we are doing smashing, doing nothing wrong, they are holding some good strike forces like Wimbledon, who had very few chances in the game last Sunday.

‘You have got to remember the last five goals we have conceded. Cambridge was offside, two set-pieces at Notts County, the throw-in against Stevenage and our own throw against Macclesfield.

‘You can’t stop the goal at Cambridge because the ref gave it. I certainly feel we could have stopped the other four.

‘If we had then our points tally would have been a lot more as well.

‘The important thing for me now is we need continuity – if we can – further up the pitch.’

Not since Cambridge United has Cook been able to field the same front four.

Since then, Evans (suspended), Roberts and Tubbs (both injured) have had games out, while Kyle Bennett was rested against Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty have both arrived on loan.

Cook added: ‘We have the 10th best home record in the league, we have one of the best away records – there are only two teams in the league who have lost twice.

‘What are records? It is about winning games.’