This weekend of EFL action is a significant one, as a number of clubs will be able to welcome a small amount of fans back into their stadiums.
Among those clubs is EFL League One promotion chasers Portsmouth, who are hosting fellow high-flyers Peterborough United in what will be an intriguing game.
Both sides have stuttered a bit of late, so will be hoping that they can get their dreams of a place in the EFL Championship back on course here.
Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett has no new injury worries, with Michael Jacobs being the only absentee from the squad. The attacking midfielder is getting closer to a return to training, following his knee issue. Although other changes could be made following defeat last time out.
Meanwhile, Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson will be without left-back Dan Butler, who has a calf problem, as well as midfielder Joe Ward due to his knee injury keeping him sidelined. However, young striker Ricky-Jade Jones is nearing a return to fitness, following a leg injury.
(4-4-2) MacGillivray, Johnson, Whatmough, Raggett, Brown, Harness, Naylor, Cannon, Curtis, Marquis, Harrison.
(3-4-1-2) Pym, Kent, Beevers, Blake-Tracy, Broom, Taylor, Brown, Butler, Szmodics, Clarke-Harris, Dembele.
Portsmouth’s most recent outing saw them lose 1-0 away at midtable Blackpool in midweek, as they slipped to sixth in the table, in fact, Pompey have only won one of their last four in the league. But 11 goals in their last three home games in all competitions might give Jackett’s side enough encouragement to score a few against an out of sorts Peterborough.
Ferguson has hit somewhat of a pothole after a promising start to their journey to the Championship. The Posh were the league leaders a month ago, but a run of four defeats in five games in all competitions has seen them fall to third, as well as embarrassingly exciting the FA Cup to sixth tier Chorley. A midweek defeat to AFC Wimbledon added to their misery, so they will be hoping to change that this Saturday.
Ones to watch
In terms of League One goalscorers, there are none better this season than Portsmouth’s John Marquis, who has nine to his name, and 10 in all competitions. The 28-year-old took a little time to get going this campaign, but has shown that he is deserving of the number nine shirt. The former Doncaster Rovers frontman last scored in his side’s last league win, so will be aiming to score again here to propel them to victory.
When it comes to goals in the other camp, Jonson Clarke-Harris is the man to turn to, with him scoring eight goals since his arrival from Bristol Rovers in the summer. The 26-year-old bagged the only goal of the game in their solitary win over Plymouth Argyle during this poor run, and another winner in a crucial match like this could go a long way to turning their fortunes around.
Quite surprisingly, the last time these sides met was when fans were last allowed in stadiums, as Peterborough won 2-0 at London Road on March 7th of this year. Ferguson’s team have won two and drawn one of the last three meetings, so will be aiming to continue that impressive head-to-head record here. Portsmouth, on the other hand, have not beaten their opponents in the league since September 2018, and will be equally hopeful that they can end this minor hoodoo on Saturday.
How to watch
The game is available to watch for both sets of fans on each club’s individual iFollow pages. For season ticket holding Portsmouth fans, the link is obtainable for free.
What the managers have said
Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett spoke to the club website, expressing his delight at the return of fans to Fratton Park. He said:
“It’s good for football overall, but it’s massive for our players that they’ll be there and driving us on. It’s an excellent step.
“The way the fans get behind this team is a massive thing, although I’m sure all sides will want their own supporters there, because it’s a big part of the game.”
In the other dugout, Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson explained to the club’s media what his side need to change. He said:
“We weren’t clinical enough (in the Wimbledon defeat) People have got to start scoring goals when we have chances, that’s their job.
“And I know it sounds so obvious, but we’ve got to start getting clean sheets. One in seven is no way near good enough.
“So we’ve got to start being more ruthless in both boxes.”