Paul Cook readying Pompey big guns for Ipswich

Pompey attacking midfielder Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey attacking midfielder Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler

PAUL COOK is set to unleash a powerful FA Cup side on Ipswich tonight.

The Pompey boss is readying a strong team selection for the Tractor Boys in the FA Cup third-round replay showdown.

We need a game in the legs. We’re the opposite to being overloaded with games.

Paul Cook

That’s with thoughts also on Saturday’s crucial promotion clash with Oxford.

Cook confirmed Christian Burgess, Gary Roberts and Adam Barton will start against Mick McCarthy’s men.

Michael Doyle and Gareth Evans are both also pushing for minutes after being rested at Portman Road.

After Saturday’s postponed clash with Accrington Stanley, Cook explained there are players who need minutes on the pitch.

McCarthy is sending a youthful squad to the game, but the Blues boss feels his established players need to feature.

‘The postponement affects the team selection, of course it does,’ said Cook.

‘As a manager, by the time you make a decision you make it because you think it’s the right decision.

‘At one stage all of our focus would have been on the Oxford game.

‘The Ipswich game almost becomes a game we have to get through.

‘But then, because of the lack of quality training the lads have had over the past 10 days, the necessity to play against Ipswich becomes more.

‘It becomes a replication of Oxford because we need the game. We need a game in the legs. We’re the opposite to being overloaded with games.

‘Looking at the squad, Michael Doyle had a rest at Ipswich. Gareth Evans had a rest. Christian Burgess is now fit.

‘Gary Roberts starts. If we give Gary 60 minutes, no matter what against Ipswich, the likelihood is he’s prepped for Oxford.

‘That’s not a decision we’ve made, but, within the framework of the team, we have those options.

‘Ben Close played his first game in a while and so did Gary Roberts. Adam McGurk as well.

‘You can go right through the team

‘It’s only Ben Davies, Kyle Bennett, Enda Stevens and Brian Murphy who have had a run.

‘So they’ve had a bit of a jacuzzi on Sunday morning and they are good to go.

‘We can manage it.’

The task of managing his players, is something which is proving a challenge for Cook at present. That was underlined by Saturday’s team selection for Accrington being one of the biggest challenges he’s ever faced.

He said: ‘The team I was trying to select for Accrington was the toughest I’ve had in my managerial career.

‘We have a lot of lads at the minute who are playing well.

‘Even if you go down to Conor Chaplin’s goals, everyone is knocking the door.

‘They are telling me in their performances they should be playing.

‘How can I leave out Adam (Barton)?

‘It’s a different school of process.

‘Some say pick your strongest team. My argument against that is how do you reward patience?

‘How do you reward coming into the team and playing well?

‘I’d like to think as a manager I sit somewhere in the middle.

‘I think you need lads champing at the bit to play and you reward them for good performances.’