The final international break of the year is underway this week, meaning a reduced fixture list across the EFL.
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth was given the option to postpone this game due to Sullay Kaikai, Daryl Horgan and Tjay De Baar being called up. But he instead chose to play on, hoping to use the rest of his strong squad to build some momentum ahead of their busy upcoming schedule.
In the other camp, Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has claimed that he may only have 14 senior players available for the weekend. Both goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu and midfielder Joe Morrell are away on international duty, whilst Clark Robertson and Ryan Tunnicliffe are out with injuries.
(3-4-3) Stockdale, Stewart, Tafazoli, Jacobson, McCarthy, Thompson, Gape, Obita, Wheeler, Vokes, Hanlan
(4-4-1-1) Bass, Romeo, Raggett, Ogilvie, Brown, Harness, Thompson, Williams, Curtis, Azeez, Marquis
Wycombe were expected to be in and around the promotion places in pre-season - after their relegation from the EFL Championship in May - and that’s exactly where they find themselves, sat in fourth after 16 games.
However, their last four results in league and cup have been a disappointment for Ainsworth’s men, beginning when they let a two-goal lead slip to draw with Fleetwood Town last month. That was then followed by a heavy defeat at home to Ipswich Town, and being forced to a replay by EFL League Two side Hartlepool United last weekend.
They looked to rectify those results in midweek at home to Burton Albion in the EFL Trophy, but were subsequently hammered 5-0. So Wanderers will be hoping a return to the league will also see a return to winning ways.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth were seen as promotion hopefuls as well, having narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season. But they unfortunately find themselves in 14th, after a poor start to their campaign.
Their last couple of games have seen them progress through to the second round of both the FA Cup and EFL Trophy, but their league form has seen them win just one of their last five. A draw against newly promoted Cheltenham Town was their most recent league result, which may be the best they can hope for this weekend, with an increasingly stretched squad facing such strong opposition.
Ones to watch
Ainsworth has opted to play Adam Przybek in goal for their two cup games in the last week, following their 4-1 loss at home to Ipswich in the league. Former Premier League shot-stopper David Stockdale was between the sticks for that game, and will likely return to the starting line-up on Saturday. The experienced keeper is into his second full season at Wycombe, and will want to prove that he is deserving of his position as first choice.
Former Doncaster Rovers frontman John Marquis scored 18 goals last season for Pompey, but as their league form has dropped this term, so has his prowess in front of goal. He has managed just four strikes in 18 games so far, with all of them coming at home. Cowley will be relying on him to find his shooting boots again if they are to challenge for promotion, with a first away goal of the season this weekend being a small step towards that.
These sides have met on 14 occasions across all competitions, with Pompey edging it slightly with five wins to Wycombe’s four. However, two of the Chairboys’ wins came in cup competitions, meaning they have won just two out of 12 league meetings with their south coast opponents.
One of those came when they last hosted this tie in September 2019, winning 1-0 at Adams Park. Wycombe did then lose the reverse fixture at Fratton Park that season, being comfortably beaten 3-0, before they went on to get promoted.
For fans that can’t attend the game in High Wycombe, the match will be available to stream on iFollow for those outside the UK and Ireland, with the highlights available by the end of the day at the latest. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT.
What the managers have said
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth spoke to the club website, displaying his eagerness for the game to go ahead. He said:
“We’ll be putting out our strongest team possible.
“We’re without three internationals but we were desperate to get the game on because we want to carry on the excellent home record we’ve got.
“There was a blip against Ipswich and those things can happen, but one game won’t define a season.”
In the other dugout, Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley has admitted to the club’s media, that Wycombe may see them as an easy target. He said:
“Maybe they felt with our injuries and two key players away with their countries, it was a good time to play us.
“Perhaps they smelt a bit of blood and so we have to prove that we’re not going to roll over for anyone.
“It’s five unbeaten for us, with three clean sheets, and so they’ll see a really determined and committed team.”