Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday March 29 2008
Wigan Athletic travel to Hampshire today to face Portsmouth with ¾ of their midfield missing through suspension, a game plan of play the long ball maybe the order of the day.
Brown, Palacios and Koumas couldn`t be missing at a worse time, the season is closing down fast and we need just seven more points to be safe for another year
Brown and Palacios, along with Scharner have been our most consistent performers over the past few weeks and they will be sorely missed today
Bruce could well be tempted to play Scharner in a midfield holding role and bring in Hagen at centre half for his debut.
Figueroa could also come into contention for the left back birth leaving Kilbane free to play wide left midfield and with Skoko taking up the playmaker role that would sort out the starting 11 and keep our 4-4-2 formation intact
Portsmouth play their FA cup semi-final next weekend so hopefully they will have one eye on that game and this could allow the Latics to get a sneaky point, cant see it, but hope so
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
'Three months ago we were at the bottom of that pile and at the moment we've given ourselves a good opportunity.
'Time's running out, but we've just got to maintain the accumulation of points which we've done over the last three months, and if we can do that, I'm sure we'll be okay.
'I've set a target of seven points from seven games and I think we're capable of doing that.'
'You have to take your hat off to Harry and the club's backers for the team they have put together'
'Portsmouth are such a powerful, physically big side, with pace in the right areas, and bags of experience.'
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp:
'We've already had a great season but we've won nothing yet and we've certainly not given up on fifth place in the league.
'That would be a fantastic way to get into the UEFA Cup and we just have to try to keep winning.
'If Everton lose at Liverpool and we win on Saturday then the gap is down to four points.'
'But we have to watch Wigan, Emile Heskey up front is a handful, and there's Marlon King, too.
'I have looked at signing King in the past and Heskey is an old-fashioned centre-forward.'
Lassana Diarra is out with a hamstring injusry and there a doubts over Hermann Hreidarsson and Lucien Aubey
James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Pedro Mendes, Davis, Utaka, Kranjcar, Hughes, Defoe, Baros, Kanu, Nugent, Aubey, Mvuemba, Wilson, Lauren, Ashdown
A player that Paul Jewell could have signed for the Latics a couple of years back but didnt...how these things come back to haunt you.
Latics left back Erik Edman is out till October at least after 'doing' his knee ligaments at Blackburn last week.
Midfield trio Michael Brown, Wilson Palacios and Jason Koumas are all suspended giving Bruce a selection and formation headache
Kirkland and Sibierski are both expected to be fit
Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Boyce, Kilbane, Olembe, Skoko, Taylor, Valencia, Heskey, King, Aghahowa, Bent, Bramble, Sibierski, Pollitt, Figueroa, Hagen.
If the big shot stopper is fit as is expected, he could well be in for a busy afternoon with so many Latics regulars out, this could be the battle of the England keepers.
Portsmouth 1-0 Wigan Athletic
Benjani 49 mins
Ref Peter Walton
9 September 2006
Previous league meetings:
Pompey 6 wins, Latics 3, Draws 2
Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)
Games - 25
Yellows - 83
Reds - 1
Heart says 2-1 win for the Latics
Head says 2-0 win for Pompey
Latics Vs Birmingham
Date:Saturday March 29 2008
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