Paul Cook: Still all to play for to get into my Pompey team

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Colin Farmery
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Colin Farmery
  • Pompey have six pre-season friendlies lined-up over the next month
  • Schedule starts today at the Hawks with a sixth fixture to be announced

Paul Cook has admitted: There are places still up for grabs in my League Two team.

The Blues boss conceded he is unsure of his starting line-up and will utilise the friendly schedule to finalise his plans.

Sometimes you put someone in and then 10-14 days later the position will change because someone is playing better or someone is looking livelier

Paul Cook

Pompey today face the Hawks at Westleigh Park in their opening pre-season friendly (3pm).

That will form one of six summer fixtures, of which five have been officially announced.

Regardless, Cook is eyeing the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge to Fratton Park on the opening day of the season (Saturday, August 8).

There are still signings to be made and departures to be agreed during the four weeks heading into that encounter.

But Pompey’s manager insisted performances in pre-season matches, starting today, will be taken into full account.

‘The bigger picture is the Dagenham game, which is very much in the forefront of my mind,’ he said.

‘The team selection is probably in my mind now and there is that question whether anyone can break into that team?

‘Certainly, the central area of the pitch is going to be interesting one.

‘We like to tell you we know our first line-up – but we actually don’t.

‘What we do know is Michael Doyle has been absolutely superb since coming in.

‘His level of fitness and level of professionalism is probably as good as I have seen in my whole career and that can only have a great effect on the younger lads at the club.

‘Logically, we will give everyone a go and I am a big believer of if you are playing well then you normally find yourself in the team.

‘There is one job spec to do from today – play well.

‘Sometimes you put someone in and then 10 to 14 days later the position will change because someone is playing better or someone is looking livelier.

‘Certainly, up front we now have Jayden Stockley and Matt Tubbs but I would like three strikers.

‘I would be happy with three because I have great belief in the lads which are here.

‘We need to pick people for games and if you are in the team scoring goals and playing then the likelihood is you will stay in.’

Cook is eager to reduce the size of his current 20-man squad, with other signings also in mind.

In addition, he has three first-year professionals in Chad Field, Snorre Nilsen and Brandon Haunstrup.

But there remains a focus on squad numbers.

Cook added: ‘I want that little bit of competition for players but also the closeness of players being behind each other.

‘I don’t like the thought of having big squads and people being disrespectful to anybody from the stands.

‘If they are then people will leave the club very quickly.’